by Romaisa Hussain & (Junna) – Art in Tanzania internship
Climate change has emerged as a potentially existential threat all across the globe that poses a serious risk to the survival of mankind and sustainable development. Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming and human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Based on a numerous lines of evidence, it is now more certain than ever that climate change is a threat multiplier that can amplify the effects of existing dangers. These threats include human security, scarcity of natural resources, environmental degradation, and poor economic growth.
The United Nations General Assembly set up the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 which serve as a blueprint for a sustainable future to be achieved by 2030. The 13th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations talks about Climate Action. The goal discusses the critical impact of climate change and encourages developing countries to move towards low-carbon emission in the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a separate organ working within the UN that deals with climate change and other environmental issues. The UN aims to adapt to low carbon development especially in the vulnerable regions that contribute towards climate action and sustainable natural resource management through collective action. Most of the states in the world are affected by climate change with East Africa being one of the most affected regions.
Tanzania is suffering the brunt of the consequences of climate change in East Africa. The agricultural-based economy of Tanzania has become vulnerable to the extreme climatic conditions. The majority of the population is located in the rural areas which heavily relies on agriculture and farming that is threatened by rising temperatures, droughts and extreme rainfalls. The country is home to the world’s largest river system, the River Tanzanian. Despite immense water resources, Tanzania struggles with a shortage of water both spatially and temporally which is worsened by the climate on its nine main river basins. In the recent years, there has been a severe decline in the water level in Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria and Lake Jipe as well as a decrease in the water level of about 7km in Lake Rukwa during the last fifty years. These are connected with climate change and are endangering towards socio-economic activities. The effect also puts the country’s hydropower system at risk. Furthermore, diseases such as diarrhea and malaria remain one of the prime causes of casualties in the country especially in the urban settlements consisting of poor infrastructure prone to flooding and increased temperatures.
Tanzania’s economy relies on its natural and environmental resources where a good number of people depend on fisheries for their income which are at risk from rising sea waters and freshwater temperatures. Tourism is another aspect that has the potential to boost the economy of Tanzania as the country has a tropical climate and is home to wildlife, forests, beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and minerals. The attractions are found in abundance in national and marine parks, historical and cultural sites and recreational sites. Currently, tourism generates 17.5 per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of export revenues, making it an important economic sector but climate unpredictability endangers the ecosystem services on which tourism relies. For example, the Serengeti National Park has been famous for tourism wildlife migration for decades which contributes significantly to Tanzania’s economy and serves as a key source of employment. There is a growing fear that the climate has shifted dramatically, potentially affecting wildlife tourism.
Threats to the sustainability of the natural resources and environmental degradation remain an issue in Tanzania such as the untimely harvesting and usage of natural resources, unsupervised cultivation process, and trespassing on water sources. Collectively, these can seriously affect the sustainable development goals of a country. Due to the unsustainable consumption of resources, there can be problems in the production of sources that may affect livelihoods. In addition to that, they can lead to the deficiency of food which could eventually lead to poverty. An increase in the population and high reliance on agriculture becomes rather burdensome on the environment and its natural resources which contribute negatively to climate change and water-deficient regions.
One of the leading factors that contributes to the environmental degradation is the unsustainable management of land and watershed. Many challenges are still needed to be tackled to reduce this issue including unexpected growth of human settlements, wildlife hunting, illegal farming and livestock, uncontrollable bushfires, weak inter-sectoral association and stakeholder linkages. This may lead towards the social and economic development of the country as well as reduce poverty. The Tanzanian Government has marked the water-oriented issues as a major factor that has affected the environment which is why it has been implemented in national policies and necessary plans and strategies needed to tackle it. The visibility of climatic changes in Tanzania is increased by 60% which are seen in the form of a decrease in water sources, land degradation and the reduction in agricultural land. The Government also tends to focus on carbon emission with the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, the saving of wildlife to abolish the hunting system as a means of income, reducing vehicle usage and improving urban planning in the country to promote urbanization. It also placed environmental sections under the sector ministries to ensure and monitor the environmental issues as well as raising awareness amongst the community. The Government also needs to guarantee that efforts are being made in terms of the development of the environment and climate change in national as well as subnational plans.
A National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) was developed by Tanzania’s government in 2007, as required by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to NAPA, the most affected areas in Tanzania that suffer from the impacts of climate change are agriculture, water, health, and energy. In 2012, Tanzania’s government devised a strategy to address the growing concern about the detrimental effects of climate change on the country’s economy and environment. Furthermore, the Government of Tanzania initiated the first phase of the Global Climate Services Framework (GFCS), held in 2014-2016, to strengthen the resilience of individuals who are most exposed to the effects of weather and climate-related disasters. On September 18, a ceremony in Dar es Salaam marked the start of the second phase from 2016-2019. It was conducted in partnership with the International Red Cross Federation and Tanzania Red Cross Society, Ministry of Health, Gender, Elderly Affairs, World Health Organization (WHO), Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania World Food Program, and Tanzania Meteorological Agency.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is one of the partners of the Government of Tanzania that has aided the development of the environment and contributed to measures regarding natural resources and climate change issues. The UNDP encourages the Government and respective communities in terms of sustaining the environment and contributing to the reversal of environmental degradation. As long as the correct policies are implemented, the chances for preserving the ecosystems in terms of food, energy, wood i.e. timber, clean water, consistent climate etc. are possible. Over the past few years, Tanzania has recently experienced high growth rates of about 7.4%.
The impact of climate change has had a huge effect on the incomes of the people in Tanzania. It has had a severe impact on the economy, agriculture, natural resources and livelihoods of people which exposes the vulnerable part of the country. It is, to say the least, the Government of Tanzania is to be respected for the progress it has made regarding the development and exercising of policies and strategies to prevent degradation and the protection of the environment. The Government tends to cater to the environmental needs of the country and maintain its natural resources as a means of saving economic and social development. This would mean effectively establishing immediate measures to improve the damages caused. The Government also needs to guarantee that efforts are being made in terms of the development of the environment and climate change in national as well as subnational plans.