Lightning is the brilliant electric spark discharge in the atmosphere occurring within a thunderstorm, between the clouds. The flashing of light produced by a discharge of atmospheric electricity and a flashing of light is the result of discharge of atmosphere electricity within a thunderstorm cloud way up into the sky. Many small bits of ice frozen raindrop bump into each other as they move around in the air. All of these collisions create an electric charge and usually occurs to the areas that are mostly concentrated with metals.
Lightning can occur during anytime of the year but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning and the strikes mostly occur in the afternoon. In fact, two thirds of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6pm.
Examples of places or countries that are affected with lightning are the all regions of USA, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina. Florida is considered as the lightning capital of the country with more than 2000 lightning injuries over the past 50 years.
According to the U.S department of health and human services, they have reported some categories which are:
Males are, five times more, likely than females to be struck by lightning. Around 85% of lightning fatalities are men
People aged 15-34 years account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41%). The majority (89%) of lightning deaths occurs among Caucasians.
About one third (32%) of lightning injuries occur indoors.
Lightning is the results of thunderstorm from a charge in the normal electrical field between the surface and the atmosphere, in fair weather the surface is negatively charged, and atmosphere is positively charged. Owning to intense friction of air within the Cumulonimbus cloud, higher charges are built up with positive charges in upper portion and negative charge in lower portion. When the potential difference becomes more pronounced, discharges [lighting] occur from the cloud to the ground, from cloud to cloud or within the same cloud.
The occurrence of lighting involves different process as explained bellow;
The sky is filled with electric charge. In calm skies they are positive + and negative[-]charged
Inside a thunderstorm the electric charge is spread out differently.
A thunderstorm is made up of ice crystal and hailstone.
The ice crystal have positive charge (+) and the hailstone have a negative charge (-).
The hailstone is pushed to the bottom of the thunderstorms by its downdraft.
During the thunderstorm the Earth surface has a positive charge. Because the positive charge attract the negative charge at the bottom of the thunder clouds wants to link up with the positive charge of the earth surface.
Once the negative charge at the bottom of the cloud gets the large enough, a flow of negative charge rushes towards the earth surface. This is Known as the “stepped leader,”
The positive charge of the earth surface is attracted to this stepped leader so as a flow of positive charge moves into the air. When the stepped leader and the positive charge from the earth meet a storm.
Refers to violent convective storm accompanied by thunder and lightning usually localized and lived. Vertical air motion, considerable humidity, and instability combine to create towering cumulonimbus clouds. Frequently occur in conjunction with other kinds of storms like hurricanes, tornadoes, fronts especially cold fronts in mid latitude cyclones and orographic lifting
Types of Thunderstorm
Orographic thunderstorms – caused by air that is forced up by a mountain or hillside.
Air mass thunderstorms – is the result of localized convection in an unstable air mass.
Frontal thunderstorms – occur along the boundaries of weather fronts (e.g. cold front).
Characteristics of thunderstorms
Thunderstorm last for a short duration, seldom two hours
It consist of down and updraft of air with electric charges and thunder.
It is associated with heavy precipitation or hail.
It is usually destructive in nature as, it can kill people, animals, and destroy property.
Condition leading to the formation of thunderstorms
There should be prevalence of atmospheric instability such that air updraft can set off.
There should be availability of ample supply of atmosphere moisture for condensation to take place and maintain a storm.
There should be some agent to start convection as uplift over a hill or mountain.
STAGES OF THUNDERSTORM
The thunderstorm has three main stages which are cumulus stage, the mature stage, and dissipating stage.
The cumulus stage; this is the first stage of the thunderstorm .its dominated by updrafts that create the cloud formations which are cumulonimbus cloud necessary. The continuous strong updrafts prevent precipitation from falling .This occur where super cooled water droplets and ice crystal coalesce, then fall initiated a downdraft.
The mature stage; this once the storm has developed it will enter the mature stage. This stage is dominated by both updrafts and downdrafts and is the most dangerous stage. Falling precipitation is indicator that the storm has reached the mature stage. Lighting severe turbulence and hail can all be encountered during this time. It is also most active at this time.
The dissipating stage; this is the last stage once the updrafts begin to die out the storm is dominated by downdrafts and enters the dissipating stage. This signals that the thunderstorm is dying out. In this stage it is where downdrafts dominate and turbulence cease.
The action of warm air rising and cool air sinking plays a key role in the formation of severe thunderstorm, if the warm surface air is forced to rise because is less dense than the surrounding air. This occur when the cold air and warm air meet each other whereby the warm air is forced to rise due to be that it is less denser and the cold air sinks, so the warm air in the atmosphere will settle and condense slowly.
Two of the most important ingredients for thunderstorm formation is instability and moisture Normally in the atmosphere, there is unstable air that causes the disturbance in the atmosphere and also the moisture that is caused by the cooling of warm air in the atmosphere might result to the occurrence of precipitation, even the presence of moisture and unstable air results to the thunderstorm formation
Thunderstorms are formed by uplifting of warm and humid air, the air that is formed is forced to move upwards due to it being denser normally it becomes cooler and mixes humid air clouds and water droplets that lead to precipitation or rain.
When humid air is lifted , it will be cooled and the moisture in the air will condense to form cloud. So, after the warm air rises upward to the atmosphere, it normally meets the moist air or moisture that forces it to cool and become humid, this situation leads to the formation of the clouds known as cumulonimbus. Normally these clouds are formed after the cooking of warm air containing the cloud within positive charges and negative charges and negative charges that once come into contact leads to the occurrence of thunderstorm.
Upon further uplifting, the clouds will extend higher water droplets in the clouds continue to grow in size as the clouds extends further upwards ice crystals may form because of low temperature. This means that due to the denser air rising upwards higher in the atmosphere forces and causes the clouds known as cumulonimbus to be formed higher away in the atmosphere and also due to the cool temperature in the higher atmosphere forced the water droplets became pieces of ice crystals so this becomes very essential for the clouds formation.
Finally thunderstorms are produced by the cumulonimbus cloud normally the cumulonimbus clouds contain two different charges that is positive charge known as crystal and the negative known as hail so once these come across they produce a steeper light known as lightning that comes with a heavy and huge sound known as thunderstorm.
What should we do during lightning and thunderstorm period?
By Faraja Ntilulagomba – Art in Tanzania Internship
‘Climate Change’ denotes to long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns (e.g., temperature, precipitation etc.) over decades to millions of years of time. Climate on earth has changed over millions of years since the beginning long before human activity could have played a role in its transformation.
But the United Nation of Framework Conservation on Climate Change (UNFCCC), defined Climate Change as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) definition of climate change includes changes due to natural variability alongside human activity. Australian Government’s DCCEE, on its website described Climate Change- ‘our climate is changing, largely due to the observed increases in human produced greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases absorb heat from the sun in the atmosphere and reduce the amount of heat escaping into space. This extra heat has been found to be the primary cause of observed changes in the climate system over the 20th century’.
Thus, in the environmental discourse different stakeholders have characterized Climate Change as mainly the change in modern climate augmented by human activities. The adverse human activities for example are burning of fossil fuel or deforestation, which are considered likely to bring change in some climatic aspects.
Climate change is the global phenomenon of climate transformation characterized by the changes in the usual climate of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation, and wind) that are especially caused by human activities or climate change is “a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. Some aspects or examples of climate changes include increase in temperature (which is global warming), drought, floods, ozone layer depletion, shrinking ice sheets, rise in sea level, ocean acidification, greenhouse gases etc. Some causes of climate change are Industrial activities, meteorite impacts, quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, burning of fossil fuel, deforestation etc. According to Rahman M.I(2012) said that Climate Change, the most uttered environmental term of present time has been used to refer to the change in modern climate brought predominantly by human beings.
European Research on Climate change funded by Seventh Framework Programme said that Climate change is arguably among the most pressing societal challenges of our times, and now certainly the most well-known amongst the public. From initial observations of global warming and proposed ideas about the root causes, a steady consensus has built up that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world in the near future. It is very clearly stated in the recently released 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the physical science basis, that global warming is mostly caused by human activities.
Agriculture can be defined as the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other
products. It involves crop cultivation and animal keeping. Agriculture is a critical economic sector, representing 29.1 percent of Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and almost three quarters of the productive workforce. Moreover, it is the main source of food, industrial raw materials, and foreign exchange earnings. Since Tanzania is endowed with a diversity of climatic and geographical zones, farmers grow a wide variety of annual and permanent crops. This includes food and cash crops as well as fruits, vegetables, and spices. Major agricultural exports include tea, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and cashew nuts. In addition, some farmers raise livestock including cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and chicken as well as small numbers of turkeys, ducks, rabbits, donkeys, and horses.
In Tanzania climate change affects agricultural activities. The following are negative impacts of Climate change on agriculture in Tanzania.
Reduction of Productivity in agriculture; for example, increase in temperature, drought, and floods can decrease the rate of production in agricultural sectors. Increase in temperature lead the dry of crops like maize and beans hence results low in production to farmers.
Reduction of water availability; for example, drought can result in loss of water in the agricultural sector. Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change. Also, water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, and increased incidences of flooding threaten to destroy water points and sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources. Higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable, weather conditions are projected to affect availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows, and groundwater, further deteriorating water quality and insufficient supply of water. Due to these irrigation activities in the agricultural sectors, plant growth may fail due to lack of moisture in the soil.
Destruction of plants and decrease in number of animals; for example, Global warming affects plants and animals, some of which may die. Most plants and animals live in areas with very specific climate conditions, such as temperature and rainfall patterns, that enable them to thrive. Any change in the climate of an area can affect the plants and animals living there, as well as the makeup of the entire ecosystem. Some species are already responding to a warmer climate by moving to cooler locations. For example, some animals and plants in Tanzania are moving farther in other place or to higher elevations to find suitable places to live. Climate change also alters the life cycles of plants and animals. For example, as temperatures get warmer, many plants are starting to grow and bloom earlier in the spring and survive longer into the fall. Some animals are waking from hibernation sooner or migrating at different times, too.
Increase of evapo-transpiration; for example, increase in temperature result loss of water from water bodies by evaporation and loss of water from plants by transpiration. So excessive loss of water from plants results the decrease or loss of water in other soil, so crops or plants my fail to grow due to lack of moisture in the soil.
Decrease of income to farmers; This because climate change like global warming, ozone layer depletion, drought, and floods result low in production in agricultural sector hence income decreases because farmer have a low crop yield
Soil erosion: Increasing in available moisture, also called effective precipitation, would tend to promote both runoff and soil erosion on the one hand, and vegetation cover on the other. Since vegetation reduces erosion, we have another case of the result hinging on the net effects of “competing” processes. Effective precipitation result floods so hence lead soil erosion, this results the loss of nutrients hence bringing less growth of crops in agricultural sector.
Destruction of agricultural infrastructures, for example high rainfall and increase in temperature result the loss of vegetations. Also, floods may cause land degradation. So, climate change result destruction of agricultural infrastructure.
Delay of plant or crop growth, for example, when there are seasonal rainfall plants or crops my lack water for growth. When there are no rainfall crops may fail to grow and develop but if there is minimum rainfall crops mat develop and grow.
Reducing crop quality, due to the reduced growth period following high levels of temperature rise; reduced sugar content, bad coloration, and reduced storage stability in fruits; increase of weeds, blights, and harmful insects in agricultural crops.
Reducing land fertility; Due to the accelerated decomposition of organic substances; and increased soil erosion due the increased rainfall.
Therefore, Climate change is a rapidly growing concern for the Government of Tanzania and development partners alike. Policy and strategy processes related to climate change must be undertaken in some sectors in order to reduce climate change aspects, Climate change is a cross cutting issue affecting a number of sectors including forestry, agriculture, water, lands, energy, infrastructure, and others. So, we need to take action on climate change action (mitigation and adaptation) in order to reduce the effects of climate change on agricultural sector in Tanzania.
Arndt, Channing; Farmer, William; Strzepek, Kenneth; Thurlow, James. 2012. Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania.
In today’s world, there has been intense struggle for water resources. This is due to rising population currently standing at 7 billion, their usage of water and extreme competition over water resources, water dependent crops and urbanization. Therefore, it is no surprise that the world is running out of fresh water every day. The need for water will continue to rise unless there are steps to conserve and recycle this crucial element. As of 2020, about 1.5 billion people are dealing with water scarcity due to climate change, drought, increasing population, poor management of water and increasing agricultural output under multiple stressors. This figure is said to increase to around 3 billion by 2025. Currently, the increasing population shows huge demand and competition over water resources in terms of household, commercial, and district uses which has been a massive contributing factor towards water scarcity.
As an outsider, Zanzibar looks like a wonderous cluster of coral islands off the east African coast. The island has white sandy beaches alongside the ocean blue water and a total of about 1.7 million population that survive on a mere £10 a week. This fast-growing population is faced by water shortage especially in areas like the Michamvi village and other small towns. Despite making multiple efforts to address the water issue, the Zanzibar islands heavily depend on the groundwater for domestic and commercial uses of water for their agriculture. The climate change and rising sea level largely affect the quality and quantity of water on the island which reflects the sensitivity of Zanzibar to such variability.
The Impact of Water Crisis in Zanzibar
The coastal island of Zanzibar off the mainland of Tanzania is faced with many challenges such as the high demands for agriculture, poverty, poor technological infrastructure, and availability of water resources particularly in the rural areas where clean and hygienic consumption of water remains difficult to achieve. This water scarcity largely affects women and children who end up walking for miles to obtain the vital source which is quite time consuming as it deprives the children of their education.
Zanzibar, like many other developing areas has obtained international aid for the establishment of wells, power cables, manufacturing desalinization systems, infrastructure and constructing sanitation systems in order to prove beneficial for the island. Unfortunately, despite huge foreign aid investments, the island failed to sustain these systems due to lack of education, resources and training resulting in only short-term benefits. To address this issue, an organization called Zanzibar Water Authority (ZAWA) was established which initiated Urban Water Supply and Sanitation project aimed towards enhancing the water supply mechanism and reconstructing the financial control of the distribution of water. ZAWA installed pay-stations for the citizens to pay off their water bills, but such system asked for a cultural change. If such change is adapted by locals, the future of this system seems fruitful but all-round accessibility to hygienic and safe consumption of water still remains a challenge in Zanzibar.
Addressing the Water Quality Issue
Access to clean and safe drinking water remains a huge challenge in Zanzibar as it is one of the driest areas around the world. Because of the rise in sea levels, the underground water is growing saline and getting polluted due to increase in germs and wastewater. For this purpose, three German organizations joined together in 2015 to provide access to clean drinking water to public on the island. These companies are supported by GIZ (the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) working on the behalf of the government of Germany. Due to their efforts, about 2000 locals in the areas of Kijito Upele and Michamvi have gained access to affordable and hygienic consumption of water. Moreover, this new system also enabled the local services to keep a constant check on the quality of water within Zanzibar.
Challenges of Water Security and Climate Change in the Coastal Communities of Zanzibar
Similar to other small islands in the region, utilization and proper use of water sources are fundamental towards the elimination of poverty and food shortage in Zanzibar. Water management is also important in order to execute the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 set by United Nations especially the First SDG of “No Poverty”, Second on “Zero Hunger”, and sixth on “Clean Water and Sanitation for all”. This is due to the fact that this vital resource may reduce food shortage in local areas, decrease poverty, and enhance agricultural output. Even though Zanzibar has made multiple attempts in upgrading the water supply particularly in the domestic level in the past 10 years, in some villages around the coast, the availability and accessibility to water sources remain out of reach. Therefore, addressing the water security issue is important for the welfare and survival of human beings. Furthermore, people living in these areas rely on well and water from caves which are vulnerable to contamination and climate change.
The factors that depend on climate and local sources of wells and caves include household needs, livestock keeping, and crop farming as it largely depends on rainfall. It is also understood that water supply is not consistent but instant variable around these islands which allow the locals to experience water insecurity both in domestic and commercial level. Ultimately, those with less access to local water sources are more prone to water insecurity. Apart from arduous access to water supply, the communities also face other challenges including poverty and hydrogeology which contribute to water insecurity. Despite making efforts to improve water quality and quantity in Zanzibar, there is also potential for collecting rainwater to address the water issues. This harvest would not only improve water security in domestic level but also support the communities that are prone to climate change and depend on local sources in Zanzibar.
Access to Clean Drinking Water by Rotarians Despite Pandemic
The Zanzibar Island is said to have rich and freshwater aquifers which constantly face challenges including environmental sustainability, lack of water management and tourism. Even though Zanzibar experiences a huge number of tourists entering these islands, only 2.5% of the total population i.e. 30,000 of the people are employed. These tourists take up ten times more water usage than the local residents and few of the hotels dispose of their sewage into the sea which forms a thin line of soil over the coral areas.
The tiny settlements on the island acquire water through wells which are getting more and more polluted due to tourists, rise in population, and insufficient sewage treatment. Zanzibar Rotary in partnership with the Rotary club of Oadby Launde, a project formed in Leicester, United Kingdom, financed £1,000 and raised further £500 for the project Kiss Solar Energy to provide clean and safe drinking water in Mpadeni village. Despite the delay in project due to COVID-19, a sample was taken from the well dug about 20 meters deep in the Mpadeni village in October 2020. After being tested by ZAWA, it was passed as good quality of water.
Makame Omar Makame, R. Y. (2018, May 18). Water Security and Local People Sensitivity to Climate Variability and Change Among Coastal Communities in Zanzibar. Journal of Sustainable Development, 11(3). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.5539/jsd.v11n3p23
Since centuries ago, climate change has been a matter of grave concern globally. It is also one of the substantial global challenge in the 21st century. Many scientists and local people, through contemporary and indigenous practices respectively, have diverse views pertinent to the meaning, source, and impacts of climate change. In terms of the meaning, it is scientifically agreed that, climate change is a long process at which the components of climate systemvary for many years.
Climate change is further defined by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) as a statistically significant variation that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It includes shifts in the frequency and magnitude of sporadic weather events, as well as slow continuous rise in global mean surface temperature.
Historical Background of Climate Change;
Climate change began in the early of 19th century when the ice age and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect was first identified. In late 19th century scientist first urged that human emission of greenhouse effect could change the climate, also many other theories of climate changes were advanced involving, forces from volcanism and solar variation. In 1960 the warming effect of carbon dioxide become increasing. Some scientists also pointed out that human activities that generate atmospheric aerosols example pollution could have cooling effect as all. During the 1970s scientific opinions increasingly favored the warming effect. By 1990s, as result of improving observation work and confirming the Milankovitch theory of ice age consensus position formed greenhouse gases were deeply involved in most climate change and human cause emission are causing global warming
Moreover, there are some scientists who urged on the urgency on climate change, starting by Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) who started talking about something called the greenhouse effect. He knew that the atmosphere protects us from the sun, and he suggested that the composition of atmosphere will change and could lead to the warming of the earth. A few decades later in 1861 another scientist known as John Tyndall(1820-1893), identified the gases that may cause such effects when he was investigated the absorption of infrared radiation in the different gases, he found that water vapour and hydrocarbons like methane and carbon dioxide, strongly block the radiation and lead to cause the warming in the earth. Other scientist like James and peter kropotkin suggested that ice ages and other climate change were due to change in number of gases emitted in volcanism but was only one of possible causes. Another possibility was solar variation and shifts in ocean current which identified by them. (Croll, 1875)
According to the reportof United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that gathered at Copenhagen in December 2009 to try to reach agreement on global action to combat climate change for the period until the 2012 successor to the Kyoto Protocol that will come from Africa. Based on what is Africa’s interest in this global effort to meet key climate change objectives? how will Africa perform in Copenhagen? will Africa make a difference to the outcomes of the negotiations and the Copenhagen Agreement, given its passive role in Kyoto?
Most analyses of the impacts of climate change that have influenced UNFCCC agreements focuses on medium to long-term projections of carbon emissions and forecasting models of global warming, and cover mainly countries and regions for which relevant data are readily available. This leaves out most developing countries and regions, particularly Africa, due to unavailable data and trajectories. From an African perspective, this is serious and costly. As the poorest continent, Africa is considered most susceptible to climate change due to its vulnerability and inability to cope with the physical, human, and socioeconomic consequences of climate extremes.
Moreover, existing adaptation mechanisms and resources under the Kyoto agreement designed to mitigate climate change’s effects on Africa and other developing regions have been directed at limiting future carbon emissions, rather than addressing the region’s vulnerability and lack of resilience to the impacts of climate change on its economies and populations. As lof ate as April 2007, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that Africa was not acting quickly enough to stem the direct economic and environmental consequences of greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2007). What this report seemed to have missed or overlooked is that Africa’s concern about climate change is not mainly in terms projections of carbon emission and future environmental damages. It is more about the links between climate change and droughts, desertification, floods, coastal storms, soil erosion contemporary disaster events that threaten lives and livelihoods, and hinder the continent’s economic growth and social progress. (Solomon & Qln, 2007)
Causes of Climate Change
There have been diverse views about the origin of climate change. The debate on the origin covers two major aspects.
First, tells that climate change has been in place for millions, thousands, hundreds and tens of years ago (decades). The proponents of this notion mention the disappearance of flora and fauna species like the dinosaurs which were extinct not because of human, rather due to variations in temperature and rainfalls. They further connect their views with mass extinctions which occurred millions of years ago. Previous studies have presented the first dimension which assert that, climate change is due to natural forces. They associate earth’s orbital variations, Sun rise and set, volcanism etc. as natural events which in turn cause unusual weather patterns out of human control Furthermore, their arguments maintain that, natural forces like land masses drifting, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism etc. fueled climate change.
The second perspective urges that, climate change began in the early 19th century when ice ages and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified. This notion went far to link that, human activities has been the cause of climate change as they rightly observed the industrial revolutions notably mounted from19th with immense greenhouse gases emissions. They associate Human activities like industrial activities, agricultural activities, mining transportation, and others cause emissions of gases hence lead to drought, floods, etc. not only that but also God’s punishment due to unrepentant human sins, and disobeying fore ancestor’s cultural setups is believed as the cause of climate change to same of the believers.
In Tanzania also there are various human activities which contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases hence influences climate changes. activities like industrial activities, agriculture activities, deforestations, mining activities and burning of fuels are among of the human causes of climate change.
Trigger’s force of climate change and its impacts
IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN TANZANIA
Over the centuries and decades, climate change has been perceived as a double sword in terms of its impacts to sectors of economy, living, and non-living worlds.
Climate change projection indicates that the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events will increase. In the last 40 years Tanzania has experienced severe and recurring droughts with devastating effects to agricultural, water and energy sectors. Currently more than 70% of all-natural disasters in Tanzania are hydro-meteorological, and are linked to droughts and ﬂoods. Climate change Impacts various sectors in Tanzania as follows
Agriculture and Food Security
Changing climate has resulted in a general decline in agricultural productivity, including changes in Agro-diversity. The prevalence of crop pest and diseases is also reported to have increased, posing more challenge to agriculture. Furthermore, due to the change in weather patterns that have disturb the agricultural production has impacted food security.
Adverse impact of climate change in agriculture activities
Fresh Water Resources
Increasing rainfall variability and prolonged droughts cause serious pressure in the country’s available water resources. Severe and recurrent droughts in the past few years triggered a decrease in water ﬂows in rivers, hence shrinkage of receiving lakes, declines of water levels in satellite lakes and hydropower dams. Furthermore, some of the perennial rivers have changed to seasonal rivers and some wetlands have dried up.
Variability in precipitation may have direct consequences in infectious disease outbreaks. Increased precipitation may increase the presence of disease vectors by expanding the size of existent larval habitat and creating new breeding grounds. In addition, increased precipitation may support growth in food supplies, which in turn support a greater population of vertebrate reservoirs. Alternatively, ﬂooding may force insect or rodent vectors into houses and increase the likelihood of vector-human contact. IPCC, 2001 indicates that many vector, food and water-borne diseases are sensitive to changes in climatic conditions.
There are also a wider set of indirect impacts from climate change on health, which are linked to other sectors such as food security and malnutrition through reduced agricultural productivity as a result of changes in soil quality, increased crop and livestock pests and diseases, prolonged drought and water scarcity. Reduced agricultural productivity associated with climate change/variability exposes communities to other health risk factors, such as HIV or AIDS.
larval habitat due to floods at Kinondoni
Coastal and Marine Environment
Major climate change related impacts are a result of increases in sea surface temperatures and associated sea level rise. Some of the impacts are destruction of coral reefs, coastal erosion, submergence of small islands, destruction of coastal infrastructures and human settlement, intrusion of sea water into freshwater wells, and degradation of mangrove.
As a result of increasing climate variability, over the last years, the country has experienced increasing incidents of recurrent and prolonged droughts with severe implications on hydro power generation. Power rationing and black outs have become a common phenomenon in Tanzania. This affects individuals’ household and industrial income generating activities. Consequently, additional resources which were committed for other development programs are sometimes being reallocated for thermal electricity generation
The common impacts to all forest’s types include loss of biodiversity; disappearance of wildlife habitats, increased risk of bush ﬁres, limited availability of forest products (timber and non-timber products) and ecosystem shift
Overall, a very high possibility of irreversible losses of biodiversity as a result of such changes in climate are projected with many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species being placed at a much greater risk of extinction than before. Water shortage for the large mammals especially in the years with low rainfall is one of the main challenges facing the wildlife. The places that naturally used to hold water during the dry season no longer hold water long into the dry season. For instance, water dependent animals especially hippopotamus, crocodiles, buffalos and elephants are often found crowded in few remaining water ponds, for example in the Ruaha and Katuma River system
Hippopotamus congregation in small water pools due to water shortage in Katavi River system in 2009
Tourism has close connections to the environment and is considered to be a highly climate sensitive sector. Climate variability determines the length and quality of tourism seasons thus plays a major role in the destination choice and tourist spending. Climate also has an important inﬂuence on environmental conditions that can deter tourists, including infectious disease, wild fires, insects or waterborne pests, and extreme events such as tropical cyclones. the sector is already being impacted by climate change. The manifestations of climate change are highly relevant for tourism destinations and tourists alike. For instance, Mountain Kilimanjaro has lost 80% of its ice cover between 1912 and 2000
Apart from the impacts of sea level rise, which have destroyed cultural, historical, archaeological and heritage sites along coastal areas in the country, heat stress and drought have also caused massive wildlife deaths in the northern tourist zone. Destruction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges are devastating. Road maintenance becomes particularly difﬁcult and expensive during prolonged heavy rains in many parts of the country. For example, the 2006 El Niño rains, left many park roads impassable for a long period of time, and resulted in reduced tourist visits and loss of revenue
Decrease ice coverage at Mount Kilimanjaro as the effect of climate change
Furthermore, climate change has impact on livestock sector, industrial sector, fishing sector infrastructures and transport sector, human settlement, land use and planning and education sector of which these sectors are important for development, employment opportunities and back born of the economy.
CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES IN TANZANIA
In addressing climate change at national level, and local levels various initiatives and programs have been undertaken in Tanzania in the context of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol is further supported by the enabling environment including the National Environment Policy (1997) and the EMA. Not only that but also private sectors and private organizations has played an advantageous part in addressing climate change in Tanzania. Furthermore, climate change adaptation strategy and climate change related programs in the country including REDD and REDD+ projects are among of the initiates towards climate change mitigation, adaptation and coping strategies.
MITIGATION, ADAPTATION AND COPING MEASURES TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN TANZANIA
It is evident that, climate change is happening and will continue to ravage sectors and our livelihoods. Various studies have revealed that, people from different areas have been mitigating, adapting and/or cope with it in order to make lives goes on. In Tanzania also communities mitigate, adopt and cope with climate in various ways through in small extent due to poor awareness on climate change and normally the following are some of the measures taken and suggested for mitigating, adaptation and coping with climate change
Mitigation measures to climate change
Mitigation involves the efforts undertaken to reduce anthropogenic (greenhouse gases) emissions or to enhance natural sinks of greenhouse gases so as to reduce the threats of climate change (to lower the risks). Mitigation measures suggested and taken in Tanzania are like:
Building water reservoirs like dams, ponds etc.
Use of environmentally friendly energy sources like geothermal, natural gas, solar, and wind energy than charcoal, coal and fuelwoods.
Use of organic manure which prevent nutrient and water loss.
Soil as the biggest carbon sink on the planet, sequestrate greenhouse gases by proper soil conservation methods like contour planting and no-till farming which do not disturb the soil.
In reducing methane, farmers may prevent submergence of rice fields and cultivate uplands rice or other upland crops.
Adaptation to climate change involves the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In Tanzania adaptation measures undertaken and suggested are like:
Farmers planting different crops for different seasons
Levees against sea level rise
Temporary and permanent migration
Building water reservoirs
Re-use, recycle and Reduction of the use for resources like water
Rain water harvesting and retention
Changing the planting seasons
Use less greenhouse gases sources of energy
Growing early matured crops
Rearing drought resistant livestock.
Formulation of social climate resilient groups venturing in rural savings, table banking schemes, getting funding from innovations funds and micro-financing institutions.
Establishment of community-based climate change adaptation Organizations
Establishing climate early warning systems
Farming intensification and extensification
Mulching to conserve moisture during droughts.
Chemical weed control
Switching to off-farm activities
However, once we go deep to explore the adaptation measures, one has to find out that there are measures which take a long time to adapt and others take a short time. In this context, those measures that take a short time are referred to as coping mechanisms, as they may not demand adjustments to ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. Therefore, the coping strategies practiced in Tanzania and those suggested are like:
Receiving remittances from children/ relatives living in urban
Borrowing cash to buy food
Reduce the number of meals per day
Renting land for cash
LIMITATIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION, ADAPTATION, AND COPING STRATEGIES IN TANZANIA
Lack of mitigation and adaptation technologies
Little awareness and researches on climate change
Lack of information on climate change impacts
Lack of access to early warnings and unreliable of seasonal forecast.
High cost of adaptation
Inadequate farm inputs
Weak institutional coordination and support
Low institutional capacity
Poor extension services
Poor enforcement and implementation of laws and by-laws
Too much bureaucracy
Conflicts between farmers and pastoralists
Satisfied that climate change is the will of God
Reluctant to take changes
Generally, most of disasters in Tanzania are related with the climate change impacts there fore mitigating, adopting and coping with climate change links with disaster risks reduction and management activities. And regarding various climate change related impacts Climate change is indeed real and evident, it is inevitable, and it has to be appropriately and sustainably addressed.
1. UNEP and UNDP 2016-2021 environmental and development strategy
Through a country programme, UNEP (United Nation Environmental program) and UNDP (United Nation Development program) proposed a strategy to counteract climate change issues while improving the Tanzanian economic development. Based on a theory of change where better governance and better placed investment could decrease poverty as well as environmental degradation. In the same way, the goal is to enhance the participation in economic, environmental, and governmental issues of women, youth, and disabled individuals. To anchor sustainable development, UNEP wants to implement sustainable interactions with all institutions such as both private and public partners. In partnership with those institutions as well as the government, UNEP will be able to achieve sustainable development projects. Those projects will mainly focus on environment, natural resources, climate change governance, energy access and disaster risk management.
The forestry sector is leveraged with the agriculture of the Tanzanian developmental economy representing 90% of the country’s energy resources and ½ of his supplies in construction materials. Because of the high dependency on agriculture and the rapid population growth, pressure on the environment and natural resources have largely increased in the last few years. Deforestation, it’s becoming one of Tanzania’s major challenges.
UNEP is taking action to improve institutional and regulatory frameworks for safeguarding protected areas and preserving biodiversity. To fight against deforestation and deteriorating environmental quality, the institution is focusing on many interventions:
mainstreaming environmental concerns into development plans
Facilitating environmental laws and regulations
Scaling up community-based environmental protections initiatives
As well, to protect natural resources and avoid ecosystem degradation, UNEP actively works on:
Improving conservation of forest biodiversity, ecosystems
support efforts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade
Scaling up sustainable land management practices
Supporting community based-forest management initiatives
Promoting conservation agriculture
Finally, UNEP is highly supporting and promoting the REDD+ program. This program creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. Developing countries would receive results-based payments for result-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
According to the UNEP, the Tanzanian land faces many challenges because of its fast development expansion and its demographic growth. Those challenges are the following:
unplanned human settlements
encroachment into forest areas
inappropriate farming and livestock management practices
unregulated mining activities
poor inter-sectoral cooperation
weak stakeholder linkages
poorly planned and uncoordinated action
To fight against those challenges, UNEP and UNDP (United nation development program) will take example in the Sustainable land management (SLM) program implemented in other
Countries that have been successful. The lack of financial resources and adequate capacity in Tanzania remains a key barrier to this program. Both institutions will mainly focus on building institutional capacity and strengthening coordination between stakeholders, implementing practical SLM interventions to land degradation in forest, rangelands and arable land. Finally, they will promote watershed (hydraulic pool) management interventions to show environmental challenges to the Tanzanian community.
As a result of climate change manifestation, Tanzania will face a rise in extreme events as droughts, floods, the rise of sea level, dwindling water sources as well as impacts in the agricultural sector, energy sector and health sector. UNDP’s plan proposed support by promoting the implementation of sustainable strategies through high-capacity building initiatives and the establishment of proper institutional, policy and financial frameworks in collaboration with all key stakeholders, including the private sector. At the local level, implementing small scale climate change adaptation projects to create livelihood opportunities particularly in the agricultural sector as population depends on rain-fed agriculture as a source of livelihoods, income, and consumption.
For example, promote and help the IITA (international Institute of Tropical Agriculture) in their work with farmers to get agricultural expertise’s. Debate sessions are organized to discuss essential topics such as “What crop can I grow with this irregular rainfall season?”. The final goal is to help those farmers to have sustainable agriculture.
Moreover, UNDP wants to focus mainly on the implementation of COP21 Paris Agreement outcomes, under the United Nation Framework on climate Change. They will focus on supporting the government in order to create a framework for the implementation of INDC’S (Intended National Determined Contribution) which will be leading to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
To tackle the development of the fossil industry and transit to sustainable energy, UNDP implemented the SE4ALL (Sustainable energy for all) program to be achieved by 2030 in Tanzania. This program focuses on three targets:
Ensuring universal access to modern energy
Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
Doubling the share of renewable energy in global energy mix
The institution was able to mobilize significant political support before RIO+20 and continued to provide coordination and technical assistance around those three targets.
Thanks to UNDP, sustainable energy access for all in Tanzania is moving fast. By coordinating the implementation of the SE4ALL initiative, an Action Agenda and an investment prospectus has been created. It brings poorer communities appropriate, reliable, and affordable energy technologies. This can be possible mainly by improving policy and regulatory framework, improving institutional framework and human capacity, strengthening the M&E (Monitoring and evaluation) framework as well as generate relevant data.
Resilience is the ability of the system, community, and society to resist, to accommodate against hazards. Over 70% of all-natural disasters are hydro-meteorological and the major disasters have included droughts, floods, and epidemic diseases. All of them, affecting humans and wildlife.
As an example, let’s take the “El Niño phenomenon” that occurred in Tanzania in 2011. It causes massive floods which wash away crop farms and damage transport infrastructure, such as roads and railways. As well as destroying houses making people homeless. It also increased diseases. We’ve seen the impact of an RCP 8.5 scenario; phenomenon’s like “El Niño ” will occur increasingly frequently.
As a response, UNDP’s proposal is to strengthen the institutional framework of meteorological institutions, including the establishment of a 24/7 Emergency center for climatic disaster management. Improve weather and climate forecasting infrastructure throughout the procurement of the installation of highly sophisticated hydro-met technologies to improve collection of the hydro-met data.
Also, they want to improve analysis, interpretation, and customization of data in order to provide relevant information to groups including farmers, urban and rural dwellers, and aviation. Finally, the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) to improve coordination in dealing with disasters between the relevant institutions.
2. Climate Action Network International implication for Tanzania
Moreover, other than the United Nations institutions, other NGOs stand out for their innovative projects and their response to the global warming threat. It’s the case of Climate Action Network (CAN) International, very active in Tanzania.
Þ Climate Action Network Annual Strategy Session 2020 in Arusha
In February 2020, CAN organized the Annual strategy session about Climate change in Arusha. This event, which brought together several major climate actors, was an opportunity to discuss two major topics: “What does it mean for society/funders to build power in this climate emergency?” and “What are they doing to respond to the crisis and what do they believe is CAN’S role?”.
Through many debates and workshops all these actors agreed on the priority areas where investment is needed in terms of funding, human energy, and collaborative strength. Centering climate impacts and people to ensure governments act with urgency as well as exposing and undermining the fossil fuel industry, are the two priorities CAN and other NGOs should focus on.
Major events are going to take place in the next five years depending on the pandemic situation. These gatherings involving actors from all over the world (government, NGOs, the private and public sector industry) will be an opportunity to put these two issues on the table on a larger scale in order to take urgent action for our planet.
In the meantime, while awaiting those gatherings, CAN already started its fight for the climate by working on diverse projects and implementing solutions for the Tanzanian community. Here is the major one’s:
Water Purification & Biogas Plant (TAHUDE Foundation) is an initiative to build low carbon and resilient communities by providing access to clean drinking water and energy.
Climate-Smart Agriculture (ACT) is a community-led action agricultural initiative, which provides training to farmers on climate smart agriculture techniques such
as water conservation (bases/pots technique), short harvesting period, intercropping and mulching materials.
Climate-Smart Coffee Farming by Solidaridad is also a community-led initiative which provides training to coffee farmers on climate-smart coffee farming practices such as developing pest resistant methods, water harvesting/ conservation, short harvesting cycle crops, nursery practices, intercropping and shade coffee management.
Water for Livestock (Oikos) is part of the ECOBOMA initiative which is a project to build the adaptive capacity of the vulnerable Tanzanian community to cope with the adverse effects of climate change and reduce poverty in rural areas.
Tree Planting & Forest Conservation (Arumeru District Government)
Media Training Bootcamp: a practical skills session to build the capacity and strengthen the member’s ability to be spokespersons and to deliver powerful messages for press conferences and interviews.
Leadership & Diversity and Building a Grassroots-Driven Network Bootcamp: the objective of this session is to build members’ knowledge and understanding of how to link policies with people and navigate power and privilege to facilitate diverse inclusion and create safe, engaging spaces for grassroots leadership and organizing across CAN.
Developing Funding Proposals Bootcamp: the purpose of this session is to provide members with concrete ideas and shared thinking on good and effective fundraising. The bootcamp facilitated discussions on key elements of fundraising,
a good elevator pitch and how to approach funders and keep the communication lines open.
Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation Treaty Bootcamp: this session provided members with a background and overview of the Non-proliferation Treaty for Fossil Fuels Initiative. This initiative uses the experience and outcomes of the Non-proliferation Treaty on Nuclear as a basis and is trying to adapt this to dealing with fossil fuels. The session explored a set of high leverage strategies that this initiative could galvanize around such as the phase-out of fossil fuels and shifting narratives on fossil fuels, strengthening local action to stand against fossil fuel expansion, and encourage international cooperation to stop fossil fuel proliferation through a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
After the announcement of all these projects, we can better understand the involvement and dedication of the institution to change the habits of the Tanzanian community to provide them with a more promising future than RCP 8.5. However, there is one last project that particularly caught my attention, and which demonstrates the long-term impact vision that the institution is trying to establish. This CAN project is the climate and livelihood center in Bagamoyo. The purpose of this green village is to link scientists to the communities to provide new initiatives. Many activities are organized going from cultural events to environmental workshops. Everybody is welcome regardless of their work sector (fisherman’s, students, small-scales farmers, etc.). The center provides knowledge through training and teaching, the possibility to implement the improvements directly on the site and most of it, the center tried to provide this networking to have a bigger impact and reach more communities and partnerships.
They organized three workshops in December 2019 to raise awareness and inform the participants on renewable energies (RE) and the necessity of transitioning to clean and affordable energy. 124 participants were representatives of women groups, local government authorities, and civil society organizations.
Because the baseline study was focused on their own villages, people were highly interested. The survey showed that 92% of the households were not capable of paying the highly initial cost of renewable energy. But the community saving groups might present an opportunity for decentralized energy. 42% were unaware of the potential of RE, only solar was common and most of them (91% of the survey) use charcoal and firewood for cooking
Because of deforestation, people have difficulties using firewood (takes three hours to collect) and their only alternative is charcoal. Many of the village’s council stated that they did not include RE into their agenda due to the lack of understanding and support from government and non-governmental stakeholders.
Participants were really curious and interested about identifying achievable and long-term solutions. With the help of CAN in Tanzania, they establish and initiate RE clubs in primary and secondary schools that allow children to be innovative and creative. Finally, those workshops promote awareness about RE. Shumina Rashidi, the councillor of the Bagamoyo District and a businesswoman, for example told the CAN team: “In the workshop I learnt that cooking with gas is very cost effective – especially because I am living in Bagamoyo town, where it is available everywhere. I am going to use gas for cooking – not only for my health, but also to protect the environment. “
The important point is to understand that these people have no idea of what climate change is, why we said that the globe is becoming warmer, and why we should care about fossil fuels. That’s why it’s essential to sensitize and inform them before taking actions or implementing projects where they don’t understand the environment purpose.
During our interview, Adelaide Mkwawa said “you know there is a huge friction between NGOs and the government. If NGOs tell the truth and the government disapproves, they can remove your NGO license”. NGOs have to be very careful and clever not to come into conflict with the lack of investment and impact of the government while at the same time making them understand the importance of acting quickly and strongly.
For Adelaide, who had also worked for the UNAT (United Nation international justice system), NGOs had implemented lots of projects in response to the SDGs. Most of them have being undertaken by the Parliament Group of sustainable development to enter those propositions and projects in the government budget. But at the moment, where those projects and propositions are in the hands of the government then it’s really hard to find their progress because of the lack of information and the lack of knowledge to communicate by the government. Communication between institutions is really poor due to lack of resources and the inordinate amount of time that elapses between the transmission of the first information and its evolution. For Adelaide, this is one of the biggest issues and that’s why projects in Tanzania take so much time. In her opinion, the creation of a communication sector that’s effective will facilitate this collaboration between the government and NGOs.
Investment for Climate change is all about communication and collaboration. Even for the private and public sector. A close collaboration between institutions on their new methods and techniques to afford sustainable development is a key point to move forward. Some institutions in Tanzania have excellent ideas to fight against this global warming while in the meantime ensuring the economic development of the country. This is the case of TWIGA CEMENT INDUSTRY.
4. Combining economic development and environmental responsibility: TWIGA CEMENT example
Tanzania Portland Cement Company Limited (TPCC) also called TWIGA Cement is a cement-manufacturing company. Member of the Heidelberg group and listed in the Dar es Salaam stock exchange, is the largest cement manufacturer and reports a company total asset of 322 billion TSH (141 million US$).
The challenge for TWIGA is colossal. On the one hand it is one of the biggest employers in the region, employing hundreds (more than 300 in 2019) of people. These jobs are quite simply indispensable for people’s survival from a human and community point of view. Moreover, it is one of the main reasons for the development of the region, where their cement has enabled the construction of many buildings and most of the houses. However, on the other hand, it is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and is at the origin of many environmental challenges, in particular its production: Soil erosion, soil health, topography, deforestation, pollution of waterways, health, and safety of workers and community.
We had the chance to visit it and we realized some important facts during this day. First, there is a military base in the company’s own premises which testify an economic state interest and a voluntary security to the factory. Second, most of the workers pass have also a Chinese translation which testify an economic interest from China.
The largest drivers of climate change are large corporations and industrial factories. Since TWIGA belongs to this category they are holding themselves responsible to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Despite all the prejudices I had on this type of company, I was quite surprised.
TWIGA Cement counters their negative action by giving to nature what they had stolen from her. About ten years ago they founded the Nursery project to tackle their environmental impact. In order to collect these precious stones for the creation of cement, TWIGA has to dig for hundreds of meters, destroying the surrounding nature. When the digging space is exhausted, they fill it with soil and sand and replant some fast-growing tree species on top. These trees allow the soil to be re-fertilized, thus restoring the basic natural conditions. Once the fertilization has been completed, the fast-growing wood is cut for consumption and various new species are then planted permanently. It’s at this point that the nursery project appears.
The goal of the nursery is to mitigate damage being done to the surrounding environment, improve the health and wellbeing of underserved groups in the community, such as school children and prisoners by providing free shade trees. The nursery improves air quality and the environment at large through carbon sequestration. In the nursery they have quite a lot of species going to the Averrhoa bilimbi (culinary interest and the leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps, or skin eruption) to the moringa oleifera (Its young pods and leaves are used as vegetables. The seeds are also used to purify water, as a detergent, or as a medicinal plant.) and even mint.
A barren plot of land in close proximity to the cement production has been transformed into a lush haven for biodiverse plant species and crucial pollinator species. Many of the trees grown there have medicinal benefits or are fruit bearing. To achieve their goal TWIGA has undertaken this project and educates the community by engaging with volunteers and hosting students to teach them how to maintain gardens and plant trees. They are also introducing the concept of sustainability to many local youths and giving them the tools to raise their own trees in needed areas. They are spreading the culture of sustainability and changing the mindsets of the young generations.
However, there are still some challenges to achieve such the six volunteers in the nursery compared to the hundreds of people employed in the factory. Despite all the efforts made, we can still understand where the priority is.
TWIGA Cement could be a great example to follow for many drivers around Tanzania and even further. Everybody needs cement, unfortunately in Tanzania, wood is the main construction material and the transition for sustainable tools that avoid deforestation and greenhouse gases are not readily available today. The carbon sequestration provided by those hectares of nursery, permits TWIGA to achieve its goal of developing Dar es Salaam district while at the same time reducing its negative impact.
Investing in R&D (Research and Development) for green energy could be the next step for TWIGA cement to achieve their goal of being a zero-carbon emission company.
Because at the end, compared to developed countries such as European ones or the United States, African countries and especially Tanzania have only small responsibility in the global warming issue. Tanzanian people because of low incomes mostly consume daily needs. Most of them don’t travel out of their countries because plane tickets are too expensive, and their water consummation is ridiculously low compared to a country like Germany or France. When you drive through Tanzania you don’t see any herds with thousands of animals, in other words no intensive farming and all their agriculture is natural, i.e., without the use of pesticides. Still Tanzania and other African countries will be the most affected by climate changes in the next decades.
As I said, Tanzania is a small greenhouse gases emission driver. Nevertheless, if the major drivers of those greenhouse gases which are mainly fossils industries. Take the example of TWIGA Cement and how they invest in R&D for clean energy, Tanzania could become an example of sustainable development for all African countries.
Through my internship at the Art in Tanzania institution, I had the chance to participate in many debates classes whose aim was to learn English while debating on sensitive subjects such as religion, waste management or Covid 19. I was very surprised by the open-mindedness and the stance that Tanzanians can take on such subjects. Unlike our European countries where discussions often turn into a confrontation of two ideals rather than the understanding and acceptance of a difference. Therefore, after more than two months of living together and sharing their traditions, I am convinced that the Tanzanian community has a key role to play in their climate issue. The government and the various institutions that want to work towards a more responsible and sustainable economy can rely on the collective strength and openness to change of its people. Tanzania can become a pioneer in the development of a green and responsible economy. To do so, its community needs to be informed and heard. The government and institutions need to invest heavily in intelligent campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of the environment and the importance of caring for it. As we have seen with the example of the workshops held in the Bagamoyo Knowledge Centre, the participants are more than interested in green energy as it can improve their daily lives, their economy, and their biodiversity. The Tanzanian community is willing to listen and act for the good of their country, if it will improve their life. The next generations have a major role in this awareness, and it is through the youth that these innovations will be born. Of course, nothing worth doing is easy and such a transition will not happen overnight.
Tanzania is a coastal country in East Africa which shares the Victoria Lake border with Kenya and Uganda. Given that the vast majority of the population’s livelihoods are dependent on the agriculture sector (80 % of the population) which is highly sensitive to climate change, Tanzania is considered to be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate change impacts are already taking a significant toll on the livelihoods and wellbeing of Tanzanians, including:
Rising of severe droughts frequency and its associated water scarcity issues, slow down in the food production chain, economics and poverty reductions gains, reduced quantity and quality of the water in Victoria Lake, including an increase in contaminants which impact the purity of the water and have the potential to harm health, reduced surface water flows and aquifer (see diagrams below) that recharge during drought periods, as well as groundwater depletion through aquifer over extraction.
Furthermore, we can anticipate the intrusion of saline into aquifers (diagram) in low-lying coastal areas, as well as on a more global scale, impacts from coastal flooding. Climate projections for Tanzania include increased periods of prolonged drought, more erratic rainfall patterns (leading to extreme flooding) and a rise of sea-levels, all of which may exacerbate the mentioned pressures on water resources in this already water stressed country. If Tanzania’s low capacity for climate resilience is not addressed, this will likely have a profound impact on public health, stifling future development in urban and rural settings alike.
In this section, I’m going to illustrate what transformation we can expect in different sectors in Tanzania such as energy, agriculture, water, and health.
Before going into technical information, it’s important to understand how those sectors will be impacted. In most of the diagrams, there will be two baselines: RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5
The Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) is a greenhouse gas concentration
(Not emission) trajectory adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC). They described different climate futures depending on the volume of GHG’s emitted in the years to come. Founded by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental program (UNEP), IPCC’s role is to provide objective with scientific information to understand the risk of human induced climate change and drafted recommendations to act in consequence.
IPCC has foreseen many different scenarios such as RCP 1.9, RCP 2.6, RCP 3.4, RCP 4.5, RCP 6, RCP 7 and RCP 8.5. In the following analysis of Tanzania climate change future, we are going to focus only on RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5.
RCP 2.6 requires that CO2 will start decreasing by 2020 and go to zero by 2100. Methane emissions (CH4) are going half the CH4 level of 2020 and Sulphur dioxide declined to approximately 10% of those of 1980-1990. In simple words we will be able to respect Paris Agreement and likely to keep global temperature warming rise under the 2*C by 2100. We will have to face new environmental conditions, that are still close to the actuals one’s, but our daily life will remain comfortable.
RCP 8.5 as you can imagine is another story. It’s the worst climate change scenario with a very high baseline emissions scenario. Experts see it as the “business as usual” scenario.
RCP 8.5 scenario assumes that by 2100 there will be between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion people. Assuming that the collapse of fertility will occur in the entire world without considering Africa. For example, Nigeria’s population will rise from 175 million nowadays to 1.5 billion by 2100. Almost all the fossil energies will be consumed, and we can expect that southern Europe will be the new Sahara. Most of the people on the planet will be leaving in extreme conditions. A scenario where giving birth in 2100 would be condemning your children to a hopeless life.
As warmer air has a higher capacity to carry moisture in form of water vapor, future climate raises the likelihood of strong rainfall events, towards the extremes. In many
places around the world, the maximum expected amount of rainfall in a 10-year period is projected to increase, which can lead to flooding.
Nowadays, Tanzania is issued to this seasonal temperature and climate variation. Rainfall period starts in December and ends at the beginning of April. Then, the easter season arrives with comfortable temperatures, consequently causing the arrival of millions of tourists.
What would be the projection of this monthly precipitation in RCP 2.6 and 8.5 scenarios?
Compared to historical data, between 2080-2099, Tanzania will face variation around 75mm maximum (January, November) of its precipitation which will reinforce floods in coastal regions and in the Victoria Lake region. In other terms, the rainfall season will be each year more intense, but Tanzania will have time to adapt to those new conditions. New innovations will engender better management in the agricultural and the energy sectors. On the left, monthly precipitation projections for 2020-2039. On the right, monthly precipitation projections for 2080-2099. In the case of RCP 2.6 scenario, the difference in 50-80 years is not considerable.
In the case of RCP 8.5, monthly precipitation will drastically increase leading to a maximum precipitation level difference of around 150mm in January. On the left monthly precipitation projections for 2020-2039. On the right, monthly precipitation projections for 2080-2099. In the RCP 8.5 scenario.
In both cases, precipitation concentration will increase, which will intensify future floods, yet not with the same intensity. Indeed, in the diagram above, RCP 8.5 scenario demonstrates the impact of “business as usual” attitude towards Tanzanian climate. It is clear that if we were to find ourselves in the situation of the diagram on the right, business will not be as usual. Power production will be largely affected. For example, the transportation lines for fuel could be interrupted by local flood for days or even weeks, or the networks distribution could be disturbed by excessive rainfall and flooding. Agriculture will be hit critically with farm crops always swept by floods which will drive Tanzania into a deeper poverty.
Drought: extreme events
Both power demand and production are tied to water availability. Obviously, this is most directly the case in hydropower systems. Although, dry conditions might also come along with higher temperatures, thus heightened cooling needs and an increase in demand for water pumping, particularly in regions of intense agriculture.
On the production side, water is required for cooling the power plants. If there is not enough water, then cooling is restricted, thus production might need to be slowed down. In some places, there are regulations preventing power plants from causing an increase in the temperature of returned water above specific thresholds, which are dangerous for local fish and plants. These thresholds are more quickly reached if stream flows are low during dry conditions. In a few regions, too much moisture can also be an issue as water might need to be removed.
Concerning agriculture, drought can disrupt its demand and production because the exposition of soils to high temperatures and the scarcity of water can result in the infertility of soil.
In the RCP 2.6 scenario, temperature will rise for 2.5 degrees with extreme variation. Normally it will stay around the 1 degree rising prediction. The temperature will still promote comfortable living. Both energy and agricultural sectors will remain possible thanks to technical innovation.
In the RCP 8.5 scenario, temperature will rise from 3 degrees to maximum 6 degrees! It will drastically change Tanzanians habits in terms of energy supply. Disruption of operation and distribution will become a major problem because of the rising demand of growing population and evolving power needs. In the same case, demand for agriculture will rise but production will decrease because of soil infertility. With 80% of the population living on agriculture, feeding Tanzania’s population will be a huge challenge. Moreover, the breeding of goats and cows will face a lack of grasslands and associated difficulties sustaining livestock.
To sum up, in the case of the RCP 2.6 scenario, environmental conditions will increase progressively, leaving time to find innovations and new management methods to keep demand and production at a sustainable level. That also means, that the Tanzanian society will have to take a responsible pathway for its environment by focusing on green energies and avoiding fossils energies.
In the case of the RCP 8.5 scenario, environmental conditions will increase drastically without leaving time for the farmers and energy companies to adapt their methods. Both sectors will be submerged by those changes. Agriculture will face long drought periods making soils incapable of growing any crops, and then will follow long term rainfall causing incessant floods where here also, the farmers will not have the time for transition and crops will be drown and washed away. Electricity will face high demand for cooling, hence conditions for living workers in both extreme periods will be inhumane. Finally, supply, production and distribution in flood periods will be difficult because of poor road conditions.
Africa’s Victoria Lake is the largest tropical lake and source of the Nile River. Climate changes will affect Lake Victoria’s levels of evaporation, temperature, rainfall, and solar energy. According to Emily Beverly, assistant professor of sedimentary geology at Baylor University, the Lake Victoria “could have no outlet to the White Nile in at least ten years”. Which means that every major port will be land closed and Kenya could lose access to the lake in a maximum of 400 years. More than 40 million people are living on the Lake Victoria basin and this result will badly affect their economy. Tanzania depends on the lake’s freshwater because it provides 1 million tons of fish annually. Tanzania’s fishing industry will decrease highly, and all northern regions would be directly affected by this shortage.
Even with an increase of the precipitations in Tanzania (monthly precipitation diagram 2080-2099), in the RCP 8.5 scenario, temperatures will be so high that the lake will dry out too quickly for it to fill up.
The diagram shows the drought impact in the Victoria Lake where more than half of the Tanzanian lake area will be affected.
Moreover, with the rise of temperature, the demand for drinkable water will equally rise.
Global warming will cause the ice on Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru to melt irreversibly.
Neither of these sources will be able to provide drinking water to the districts around
Mount Meru (Arumeru, Arusha, Karatu, Monduli, Ngorongoro) and those around the Kilimanjaro (Hai, Moshi rural, Moshi urban, Mwanga, Rombo, Same) who are completely dependent on them, representing more than 3 million people.
Finally, the rise of sea levels will constrain a majority of Zanzibar’s population to immigrate to the mainland.
Most economic sectors will be affected by climate change (agriculture, energy, fishing, etc.) and the impact on those sectors will result in many adverse effects on the human health of the Tanzanian population. With 80% of the population living on local agriculture, most of them won’t be able to feed themself and starvation will be become through years, common. Because of this malnutrition, many will be inclined to face communicable or non-communicable diseases. According to the World Bank data, 54% cause of death in Tanzania were by communicable diseases, maternal, prenatal and nutrition conditions.
Malaria is still also a major issue in Tanzania. In 2018, the incidence of Malaria was 124 per 1000 which represents 7.4 million people at risk. The rise of tropical temperature and floods will increase the mosquito’s population and therefore the risks of obtaining yellow fever, malaria, Zika virus, chikungunya and many others.
Finally, according to the RCP 8.5 scenario, poverty will increase consequently, and the population won’t be able to face massive floods. 49% of the population living under the 1.90$ per day, with houses on the ground and only a sheet of metal as roof, we can easily imagine the catastrophe.
In conclusion, if Tanzania takes the pathway of green energy which means avoiding both coal and oil, the two major used fossils energies, and if a massive environmental sensibilization campaign is implemented by the government, then Tanzania could likely be faces the RCP 2.6 scenario. As always, the biggest drivers of gas emissions are the public and private sector and there are the ones who have to give the example. Otherwise, the country will face, in the worst-case, the RCP 8.5 scenario. As seen before, these scenarios will be a disaster for a country in development such as Tanzania which faces extreme events and unbearable conditions of life.
Tanzania is lauded as one of the most peaceful and stable countries in Africa. Since its independence, the country has moved to a multi-party democracy that allows a separation of powers. Tanzania, being the mainland, has an Island called Zanzibar. Tanzanian’s economic development largely depends on agriculture. Since the 1990’s, the country has had strong economic growth and was predicted to be one of the fastest economic growth in the world. Nevertheless, it is one of the poorest economies in Africa in terms of per capita incomes, and the overall growth rate is due to the growth of the tourism sectors (safaris, Zanzibar recreational facilities) and gold mining. Most of the people that I have met here have been a tour guide for at least one or two years. It is the case for example of Hadija, who started as a day trip tour guide for Art in Tanzania and has now become a team leader in social sector projects. Tourism is the second pillar of the Tanzanian economy as it provides employment to many jobless people. The development of tourism has led to the improvement of the infrastructures of regions with tourist accommodations. Tanzania expects about 750,000 tourists to arrive in the country every year according to the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP).
The main export commodities include gold, tobacco, fish products, coffee, cotton, diamonds, horticulture, and sisal. Tanzania’s main trading partner are China, Switzerland, South Africa, Kenya, and India.
Agave sisalana, known as Sisal, is a plant native to southern Mexico. It’s a very resistant fiber is widely used for ropers, fabrics, or carpets.
The country of Tanzania is mainly composed of two religions: Christianity and Muslim.
Both religions live in perfect harmony thanks to Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere. Each religion is respectful to the other beliefs. The island of Zanzibar is mainly composed of Muslims representing 96% of its population.
On October 24th, 2020, Tanzania’s population was estimated at 59 million whereas on July 1st, 2015 it was at 52 million. Due to high birth rates in the country, on March 18th, 2021, the total population approached t0 61,006,138 which represents 0.77 % of the total world population. In 6 years, Tanzania’s population has seen an increase of 8 million people whereas during the same period the French population has an increase of less than 1 million. Around 37% of the Tanzania’s population is urban.
Also, 44% of the population constitutes of people under the age of 15, 52 % between 15 and 64 and 3.1 % is above 64 years old. Tanzania is built through a variety of cultures and traditions whereas the country is divided into 120 ethnicities, Sukuma being the largest one representing 16% of the total population. Despite aids and grants from the IMF, Tanzania is still dependent on foreign countries due its serious debt. It has an external debt of about $USD 7.9 billion and the debt servicing constitutes about 40% of the government expenditures. In order to repay this debt, the country is forced to qualify for loans from other countries. Adelaide Mkwawa, ICT and Communications Officer at Climate Action Network Tanzania is preoccupied by Tanzanian debt “A lot of aids are coming from other countries such as Switzerland, USA, China but it’s more to have a position in the country then to help. Tanzanians are really dependent on every domain on foreign aids”.
One of the main concerns in Tanzania is the eradication of poverty. According to the World Bank data, in 2017, 49.4 % of Tanzania’s population were living under the 1.90$ per day (the price per day in 2011) which is almost half of the population. The absence of resources to conduct surveys engender difficulties for the World Bank to grasp data updates. In this same year, the World Bank announced that 76.8 % of Tanzanians were under the 3.20 $ a day poverty headcount ratio (PPP in 2011) and 91.80 % under the 5.50 $ one’s. As a comparison, France’s 5.50$ poverty headcount ratio in 2017 is under the 0.1%.
The development of trade in Tanzania has played a key role in eradicating poverty in the country since the private sector controls the growth of the national economy. Major imports include capital goods, intermediate goods, and consumer goods with trading partners such as the USA, China, Norway, UK, Finland, Kenya and Zambia. Trade has led to the attraction of foreign investors due to its proof of the availability of political stability and natural gas discoveries. On the other hand, Tanzania is becoming more dependent on those countries’ financial investments.
Non-Banking financial Institutions and non-governmental organizations play a key role in the deployment of free education to citizens especially to women in the rural areas to make them aware of what is going on in the economy and the environmental issues. The Tanzanian government has established environment sections in all its ministers and a key result of it is the integration of environmental issues into the Medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) budgeting. This money should help NGOs working for the climate to play a major role. Nevertheless, Adelaide Mkwawa has never seen those governments funds when she was at the United National Appeal Tribunal (UNAT) or at the Climate action Network (CAN) where she currently works nowadays. Same conclusion for Hadija, Team leader at Art in Tanzania, non-governmental organization who promotes volunteer and intern projects in the field of climate change, education, social work, medical and health practices, social media, arts and music, sports, and HIV/AIDS awareness. “For my experiences, I’ve never heard if there were any funds from the government to Art in Tanzania which can help on environmental projects. Maybe the government planned to provide funds to NGOs, but the fund didn’t reach Art in Tanzania yet. It’s my hope that if there are some funds for NGOs, then Art in Tanzania will be among those NGOs to be considered”, Hadija said.
The biggest problem regarding environmental policies is the lack of information and communication. The government doesn’t provide any information about the strategies nor about any concrete actions put in place. Most of the research I’ve done guided me to environmental information provided by other countries or institutions (U.S Agency for international development, United Nations Environment Program, Netherland’s government, etc.) or from the last government environment data updates, which was in 2013. For more recent information, it’s necessary to talk directly with a government employees, but as you can imagine, it’s even harder than to see a cheetah in a safari. According to Adelaide Mkwawa, even the Parliamentarian Assembly for Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (Parliaments Assembly) has given information and strategies on how to implement the SDG’s in the government budget. That’s where the UNAT’s helps come to a limit. After this, the government takes responsibility for the project. “That’s why there is a lack of information and monitoring. Really hard to find the progress because the government hides a lot of info,” said Adelaide.
The African Union estimates that corruption around Africa represents $50 billions of losses each year. Lots of changes have been made in all African countries to eradicate corruption. Legislation has been drafted and anti-corruption authorities have been formed. However, on the ground, approximately everywhere and especially in Tanzania, nothing seems to have changed. Corruption is a noneconomic factor which creates a gap among the Tanzanians’ people. Since 1968, with the creation of the Anti-corruption commissions in Africa (Bertelsmann foundation 2014), Tanzania has tried to combat corruption. Most of Tanzanian’s presidents ‘ mandates were standing on the fight against corruption. In 1995, President Benjamin Mkapa declared “war” to corruption, and he organized the Presidential commission against corruption to assess the state for corruption and highlight some recommendations. This led to the adoption of the National Anti-Corruption strategy and Action plan (NASCAP) in 1999 and to the implementation of a revised NASCAP from the new president Jakaya Kikwete in 2005. At the end of 2014, a new report was made with a new anti-corruption strategy. All that information proves that, at the end of 2015, corruption had risen compared to 2005 and was less transparent than ever. Despite the government’s efforts, Tanzania continues to suffer badly from rampant corruption at all levels. Good governance is essential for the reduction of poverty and controlling corruption in the country. Tanzania faces both grand and petty corruption due to weak government laws in different agencies. Most of the foreign investors have stated that corruption in areas like taxation, customs service, and procurement, create a difficult environment for them to do business in the country, due to the high demand for bribery.
The diagram above shows us the corruption rate level from low (=1) to high (=6). Tanzania is parts of the countries that observe the highest rate of corruption. In a comparison, the USA and France are not even listed in the World Bank dataset because their respectful rate is under 1. Cape Verde and Bhutan are the two countries who faced the highest corruption with a 4.5 rate.
New president Magafuli, like his predecessors, has made the fight against corruption a point of honor of his mandates. Nicknamed “the Bulldozer” because of its style of leadership earned himself credibility for its fight against corruption. He rebuilt lost trusts with foreigners’ donors and with his population by firing publics officials that was incompetent and corrupt. In November and December 2016, six senior officials in the Tanzania Revenue Authority were fired and pushed away.
Unfortunately, president Magafuli was fighting alone in this battle and against top officials, influential leaders and wealthy powerful people. Despite the efforts and the hope Magafuli was bringing to Tanzanian’s people, corruption is still one of the main problems in Tanzania. As a personal example, I was able to see and experience this drama of corruption through my trip by car between the city of Arusha and the city of Moshi. In only 3 hours, we were stopped no less than 9 times without any reason, and we had to pay between 1000 and 4000 schillings each time. This represents between 50 cents and 2 euros. Sometimes the bill is more expensive, sometimes they let you pass, it’s random. With 91.8 % of the population living with less than 5.5 USD per day and 48.9% under the 1.9USD, corruption is a disaster.
Unfortunately, President Magafuli passed away on this Wednesday, 17 of March 2021 at the age of 61 years old. For instance, vice-president, Samia Suhulu Hassan was sworn in as a president and became the first East African country’s female president. Because of Magafuli 21 days of mourning, President Hassan didn’t expose yet her strategy to avoid Tanzania corruption.
Sectors Promoting Economic Development of Tanzania
As the main economic activity of Tanzania, agriculture contributes to 26% of the GDP and employs about 75% of the labor force. Agriculture, being the key sector of the economy, assists in poverty reduction especially in the rural areas where most people cannot afford to buy food nor have any food security. Not only does agriculture provide employment opportunities but also provides 95% of the food to the people. During the 1990s, agriculture was mainly controlled by the government but after the liberalization of the economy, many people engaged freely in this activity. Some areas received enough rainfall throughout the year making it easy for cultivation while other areas are prone to tsetse flies which badly affect the production of crops.
The lack of access to the banking sector makes it difficult for farmers to obtain loans to carry out their production since only 9% have access to financial services and only 4% are able to obtain loans. Small holder farmers have low education and knowledge resulting in poor quality of crops. This causes the crops to fetch low prices in the markets. Tanzania depends on export of cash crops which increases revenue. Since the 20th century, the main exported commodity is coffee and each year 30 to 40,000 metric tons are being produced whereby 30% is Robusta and 70% is Arabica. But none of this coffee is consumed by Tanzanian people, as they prefer cheaper and low-quality coffee. About $115 million is generated from coffee exportations. Coffee consumption is at 7% of its total production in the national output (Gupta & Bose, 2019).
According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), only 24% only out of the 44 million hectares of land have been utilized for the cultivation of crops. Moreover, the existence of water resources, favorable climatic conditions and fertile lands have led to a decrease in poverty condition.
Challenges facing the agriculture sector include:
High rainfall dependency and low irrigation process
Lack of agricultural knowledge and low level of technology such as use of ploughs
Lack of financial access to obtain farm inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Low quality of agricultural production resulting in crops fetching low market prices
Lack of storage facilities and poor infrastructure in the rural areas making it difficult to transport commodities to be processed and sold
To face these challenges, the government created the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank. This bank was established in 2015 to ensure the implementation of agricultural policies and strategies guiding the performance of the sector in general. Agriculture is also the first sector badly affected by climate change. Without help and innovations in the next 20 years, Tanzania will probably face a decrease of 80% of its actual production, which will plunge the country into deep poverty.
Mining is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Tanzanian economy. In 2013 it contributed to about 3.3% of the country’s GDP, largely changing the economic growth of Tanzania. The country is endowed with various mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, gemstones, nickel, coal, tanzanite, and uranium. Natural gas exploration of about 55 trillion cubic feet has been discovered, helping to supply electricity in the country. UK, India, China, USA, South Africa, Kenya, Netherlands, Oman, Canada, and Germany are the main investors in the Tanzanian mining sector. Like in many countries around the globe, the mining sector demonstrates multiple challenges for climate change such as health security and illegal practices. Here are some examples of the impacts of the Mining Sector in Tanzania:
Silica dust affecting the miners as well as tuberculosis disease
Existence of illegal mining in the country creating risk to the workers
Previous Minister of Mining and Energy resource was found guilty after conducting frauds deals and supplying gold to some firms
Child labor employed in mines
There was a serious case on the 17th of April 2015, where 19 people were killed after the collapse of an illegal mine near the Bulyanhulu Gold mine in the Kahama district. Many children were rescued from the same collapse. Most of the developed countries involved in the Tanzanian mining sector, already know these problems but the economic interest is too high to politically be involved in the reduction of those challenges.
Rural areas in Tanzania do not have access to the banking sector because people do not own valuable assets which would support loan extensions. There is also the lack of education on how banks operate. Most of the rural population have a day-to-day life, only using cash and have no use of credit cards. Even people with a reasonable income mainly use cash. Indeed, if you have a flow ,even low, of cash entering your bank account, then institutions know that you are running a business and then lots of fees appear. That’s why most people use cash in their daily lives and apart from tourist’s facilities, credit cards are not accepted.
Transport is very important in any economy to facilitate smooth trade. Tanzanian roads are maintained under the management of an agency called TANROADS “Tanzanian Roads” which has been able to improve the national roads. Road safety still remains a major problem due to poor maintenance of vehicles, overloading, flooding, and poor driving. Tanzania is planning to import about 138 Chinese modern buses into Dar es Salaam. This is due to the support provided by the government through the improvement of the marine transports by modernizing ports and increase spending on infrastructure. The port currently collects over TZS 40 billion per month which represents almost 18 million euros.
Welcome to part 1.2 in our new climate change blog series.
What are the main consequences of climate change and the risks to our survival?
The first consequence of climate change is obviously the rise in temperature and the harmful consequences of heat on biodiversity. But why do we keep hearing that we must not exceed the “2 degrees more” of the Paris Agreement by 2100?
Þ Temperature rise and disruption of the water cycle
Indeed, the storage capacity of water in the atmosphere varies according to its temperature. As the temperature increases, the storage capacity increases. As the temperature rises, evaporation is prevalent, and the amount of water stored as water vapor increases. As a result, rainfall is more abundant and there is an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events (especially in mid-latitudes and humid tropics). Warmer air can also contain more water vapor and therefore intensifies extreme phenomena’s such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons. There is no need to recall the human tragedies caused by hurricanes Sandy (2012),Irma (2017) or Hurricane Harvey (2017).
Global warming leads to the melting of ice zones (glaciers, ice caps, ice pack) with different consequences. Melting glaciers impact freshwater reserves because by melting too quickly, they no longer fulfil their role as reservoirs that gradually release freshwater at steady intervals. Freshwater is drinkable and is a vital need for animals and humans on a daily basis. Today, the demand for water exceeds the quantity available, which is already a major geopolitical issue in many dry regions of the world. In addition, the melting of these glaciers releases fresh water which then flows into rivers, seas, and oceans, causing water levels to rise. The melting of the ice sheets, huge areas of ice resting on land whose height can reach several thousand meters, would be devastating if they were to melt entirely.
On our planet, there are only two ice sheets:
The northern part of Greenland, which has existed for 3 million years
The southern part of Antarctica, which is the largest, and has exist for 30 million years. Given the thousands of meters of thickness of the ice sheets, their complete melting would raise the sea level by 7 meters for Greenland, 54 meters for Antarctica, consequently causing the disappearance of many islands (such as the Maldives) and the relocation of a large part of the coastal population.
As we have seen with the carbon cycle, forests today are a very important for sequestering carbon. As living matter, flora is composed of carbon and thanks to photosynthesis, it absorbs atmospheric CO₂ to transform it into oxygen. Conversely, when the forest dies or in the event of deforestation, the decomposition of plants leads to the emission of CO₂. The same is true when fires ravage forests: combustion releases into the atmosphere all the CO₂ that was then stored and stabilized.
With climate change, we are witnessing:
a warming of the air and soil temperature, destabilizing ecosystems, and biodiversity,
periods of drought and flooding that can deplete soils and kill the biosphere,
a significant increase in fire outbreaks and intensity.
These three phenomena’s, which are consequences of climate change, lead to the decline of plants. Those that survive will have a poorer capacity to absorb CO₂ and those that die will decompose releasing CO₂. Thus, the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere increases, fueling global warming which in turn feeds the three causes listed above. Between the Australian forests going up in smoke in the summer of 2019, and President Bolsonaro’s efforts to deforest the Amazon as quickly as possible, we are not talking about a hypothetical situation. The latter said, in opposition to pressure from European countries, to act to slow the fires in the Amazon “Brazil owes no debt to the planet in terms of environmental preservation”, he said during a conference in Santiago Chile on May 23rd of 2019.
Permafrost refers to ground that is permanently frozen, i.e., at a temperature that has never been above 0 for at least two years. Permafrost is found on about 20% of the planet’s surface, notably in Greenland, Alaska, Canada and Russia. It is even found in France, in the Alps.
The huge problem with permafrost is that it contains elements that have been locked in the ice for thousands of years. To take an image, permafrost is like a huge freezer. If you leave the freezer door open, your pizza thaws, your ice cream melts and microbes feed on these organic elements. Similarly, as the permafrost melts, it releases organic matter which, when subjected to the activity of microbes, produces CO₂ in the presence of oxygen or methane in an oxygen-free environment. These GHGs would then enter the atmosphere and accelerate global warming.
The potential for releasing GHGs from permafrost is colossal: we are talking about 1500 Gt, i.e., twice the amount of GHGs already present in the atmosphere. This would triple the concentration! Just imagine the additional greenhouse effect that would be generated. In this sense, the melting of a large part of the permafrost constitutes one of the two “climate bombs” from which it would probably be impossible to recover. Another important consequence is that permafrost also contains diseases that have been dormant for hundreds or thousands of years. If the permafrost melts, it could release them and create major health crises.
For example, in 2016, an Anthrax outbreak killed several humans and over 2,300 reindeer in Siberia. The disease had disappeared for more than 75 years in the region.
It reappeared with the melting of permafrost, which kept the corpse of reindeer that had died of the disease (and thus its deadly bacteria) frozen. Anthrax can be treated with the antibiotics; however, this would not necessarily be the case for all the other viruses that we do not know or do not know how to treat. The risk of epidemics or outbreaks of disease is very high. The risk of epidemics or pandemics much worse the Covid 19 is also very real consequence of climate change.
Another potential ‘climate bomb’ is methane hydrate. These are methane molecules trapped in ice. They are found in large quantities:
At the bottom of the oceans, in ocean sediments.
For the moment, this methane is stored in these reservoirs in a stable manner. It’s difficult to estimate the exact quantities, but we are talking about 10,000 Gt, which is 7 times more than all the GHGs contained in the permafrost, and therefore 21 times more than all the GHGs currently present in the atmosphere!
Unfortunately, if current warming exceeds the famous 2-degree mark, these molecules could become unstable. As the permafrost melts or the oceans warm up, methane hydrate would come into contact with higher temperatures. The unstable probability of these molecules becomes significant with a 2 degree rise in temperature. In this case, the molecules can dissociate, and the methane can escape directly into the atmosphere. Given the titanic volume of methane we are talking about, it is easy to understand the devastating consequences for global warming and life on Earth.
There are many other devastating effects caused by global warming, such as the acidification of our oceans, possibly causing the disappearance of its aquatic fauna and flora; modified ocean currents, reducing the capture of CO2; or the Albedo effect, which is the mechanism of absorption and reflection of light energy that will be less and less effective because of the ice melting. We therefore understand that it is imperative to act quickly for our survival and to avoid scenarios such as the melting of the permafrost or islands like the Maldives which is being buried by the rising waters. As climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jean Jouzel says, “Global warming, as it would be if nothing is done, is another world.” It is a world where, according to the UN, there will be at least 150 million climate refugees. It is a world where southern Europe would resemble to Sahara with temperatures approaching 50 degrees in the summer in France. It is a world where by 2070, 1 billion people will be living in areas where almost every day of the year, outdoor conditions will be lethal.
But if a country like France would be like the Sahara in the summer, what can a country like Tanzania, which already experiences temperatures of over 40 degrees from November to March, expect? What would be the impact of global warming on a population where more than 80% of the people live only on agriculture and are totally dependent on the climate?
Welcome to our new four-part blog. In a series of blogs, I will be discussing the effects of climate change on our planet and the consequences it will have if we do not do anything about climate change.
Before discussing the specific case of Tanzania, it is important to understand the definition of climate change and the consequences of its impact on our planet. Firstly, it’s critical to understand the difference between climate and weather. Weather is an instantaneous and local situation of observable things such as, temperature, precipitation, wind, and so on. Climate, on the other hand, is a statistical description based on the averages and variability of the same variables (temperature, wind, etc.) over long periods of time and on a global scale. For example, the difference between weather and climate would be the comparison between a student’s grade on an exam versus his or her yearly average.
In this report, I will focus on the effects of climate change on our environment. Since the beginning of time, the climate has changed naturally with the ice ages. For 11,000 years now, our planet has been in an interglacial era (average temperature has similarly been constant over many years, in summer the snow melts and the ice surface slowly shrink around the globe), i.e., our planet is warming at its own pace. However, climate change is different, our planet is warming much too fast. Previously, losing 5 degrees would take thousands of years, nowadays, we have already gained 1 degree in less than a century! Indeed, our greenhouse effect is completely out of control. The concentration of “greenhouse gases” (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and water vapor (H2O), etc.) in the atmosphere has increased at an unprecedented rate in recent years. The higher the level of CO2, the higher the temperature. For simplicity’s sakes, we will give for the greenhouse’s gases the abbreviation GHG’s. This diagram shows the natural evolution of the amount of CO2 during the ice ages and interglacial.
The exponential increase in GHGs over the last century is therefore leading to a completely new climate disturbance that is causing global warming to become more and more alarming and in need to be controlled.
But what has caused climate change?
From the diagram above, it is clear that the human race has a large share of the responsibility for this phenomenon. Before the 1850s, CO2 in the atmosphere played its natural role as a greenhouse gas at a relatively stable rate. Since then, human activities have contributed greatly to its increase, particularly through economic growth as standard of livings have increased drastically. As wealth rises, humans develop continuous need to consume, thus increasing their GHG’s impact. This phenomenon primarily started in Europe, and then progressively spread in all the industrialized countries. Population growth has actively participated in climate change as we have gone from 1.2 billion people to 7.7 billion between 1850 and 2019.
Parallel with these two phenomena, several industrial revolutions (steam, electricity, nuclear power, etc.) were born, transforming more and more natural resources into energy or materials. Population growth, coupled with growth in GDP per capita, have led to an upheaval in energy consumption on our planet, and now 80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels or hydrocarbons (oil, gas, coal). Fossil fuels constitute a stock that was formed over hundreds of millions of years by the slow decomposition of the remains of living organisms. However, these fossil resources are exploited by humans during which a very large quantity of carbon that was normally buried underground for millions of years is suddenly released into the atmosphere in the form of CO₂. Changes in land use also significantly impact the balance of natural carbon stocks: deforestation, agriculture, the draining of swamps, and of peat bogs for example. The carbon cycle is therefore strongly impacted by human activities and can no longer regulate itself normally. The Earth is no longer able to regulate this unnatural flow through its physical and biological mechanisms. Unfortunately, the situation is only getting worse as human activity continuously disrupts the carbon cycle, but it is becoming more and more consequential each year.
This diagram shows that we previously needed 130 years to emit 1000Gt (gigatons) of CO2 equivalent and nowadays we only need 30 years to emit the same amount again. At this rate, we will only need 20 years to produce another 1000 Gt.
Delta variant, a strain of Covid-19 that wreaked havoc during India’s second wave, has been identified in at least 85 countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the delta covid variant is the most transmissible of all the variants identified so far. Acknowledging the contagious nature of the delta Covid-19 variant that was first identified in India, the WHO on June 25 urged vaccinated people to continue wearing masks.
The delta variant, or B.1.617.2, which was first identified in India in October 2020, has now become the dominant strain in the UK, currently accounting for more than 90% of coronavirus cases there. Meanwhile, in the US, the delta variant accounts for more than a third of new cases, according to Financial Times analysis. The former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told ‘CBS News’ Face the Nation’ that the United States is likely to witness “very dense outbreaks” due to the delta variant.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that delta accounted for 20.6% of all Covid-19 cases between June 5 and June 19.
This surge has led Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the White House, to label the variant as the “greatest threat” to the country’s attempt to eradicate Covid-19.
Both the UK and US have high vaccination rates, and it remains to be seen whether their populations are protected against this Covid strain. But in much of the rest of the world, where Covid-19 vaccines have not been administered at the same level, the concerns are even greater.
Covid delta variant on WHO’s radar
On June 25, the World Health Organization’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove in a press conference said that the delta variant is a dangerous virus. “It is more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was extremely transmissible across Europe, across any country that it entered. The Delta variant is even more transmissible,” she explained during the conference.
Thus far, there are four “variants of concern” flagged by the WHO and seven “variants of interest.” Despite the strain being identified last year, the delta variant was tagged as a variant of concern only on May 11. This is because the WHO uses three parameters—increased transmissibility, more virulence, and decreased effectiveness of public health measures—to determine its seriousness.
The delay is also because there wasn’t enough genome sequencing data coming from India during its brutal second wave. Now, data from the Public Health England (PHE), the UK government’s health executive arm, have given scientists and public health experts around the world some ability to make sense of this Covid-19 variant.
What is the delta variant?
When Covid-19 infections broke out in Wuhan, China, that first strain was a “wild type” virus. This was the strain used by scientists across the world to develop testing kits, treatment plans, and even Covid vaccines.
It is in the nature of viruses to mutate, and it did. But not all mutations are serious, and usually do not require countries to reimagine their public health measures.
The variants of concern—Alpha (first identified in the UK), Beta (South Africa), Gamma (Brazil), and Delta—are different from all other countless variants for this very reason.
The delta variant has certain significant mutations in the spike protein of the virus—the pointy elements that give it the shape of a crown (which is why it’s called the coronavirus). These spikes are like hooks that have to find the receptors in a human cell to link with. Studies have shown that these spikes hook onto receptors called ACE-2. Once these spike proteins can unlock the cells, the infection spreads by replicating the genetic code of the virus.
Some key mutations in the delta variant—such as the E484Q, L452R, and P614R—make it easier for the spikes in the virus to attach to ACE-2 receptors. This means it can infect and replicate faster, and even evade the body’s natural disease-fighting immunity more efficiently.
The spike protein mutations make the delta variant the “fastest and fittest” variant yet, according to the WHO. The disease caused by this variant might also exhibit different symptoms than other viral mutations. Those infected with the delta variant develop symptoms such as headaches, sore throat, and a runny nose, replacing cough and loss of taste or smell like the most common symptoms.
Is the delta variant more transmissible?
“Most studies indicate delta is 50-60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant,” says Dr. Bhramar Mukherjee, associate director for quantitative data sciences at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. “The Alpha variant itself was nearly 50-60% more transmissible than the original strain.”
This, according to Mukherjee, implies that if the reproduction number for the original strain was around 2.4-2.6, the one for Alpha is 3.6-4.2, and for delta, it is 5.6-6.7. In layman terms, if a person infected with the original strain could infect nearly two people, a person with the Alpha variant could infect four people. With delta, one person could infect nearly seven other people. It’s important to remember that these are averages, not absolute numbers; one delta carrier might infect zero people, or 25.
Its higher reproduction number is likely why entire families in crowded Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai were infected together. It would also explain the tsunami-like surge of cases in the country in April and May.
The other consequence of a higher reproduction number (denoted as R in epidemiological data) in an epidemic is that it increases the threshold for herd immunity. That is, more people will need to have the antibodies—either through infection or vaccination—to be protected as a community against the delta variant. “With an R of 2.5, the threshold for herd immunity is 60%, but with an R of 6, it is 83%,” explains Mukherjee.
Do vaccines work against the delta variant?
According to the CDC, studies show that the currently authorized vaccines which include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson&Johnson or Janssen work on the circulating variants.
Dr. Gautam Menon, professor at the departments of physics and biology at Ashoka University in India said, “It is reasonably certain that the delta variant also exhibits some immune escape, although estimates vary as to the extent.” For instance, single doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to data from the UK, are only 33% efficacious against the disease.
But there is hope that those who are fully vaccinated are reasonably protected against serious disease. According to data from PHE, Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine is 96% effective, and the AstraZeneca vaccine 92% effective against hospitalizations after two doses. These, PHE says, are comparable to efficacy against the Alpha variant.
This also means that getting a large part of the population fully vaccinated is crucial for countries where the delta variant is prevalent. For countries like the US, where nearly half the population is fully vaccinated, scientists suspect a varied impact of the delta variant. “I would expect some breakthrough infections and transmission happening even in highly vaccinated areas in the US, but would not expect a spike in hospitalizations and deaths,” Mukherjee says.
“We cannot be complacent with a large percentage only partially vaccinated, dropping masks and Covid-appropriate behaviors,” she adds. “We need full vaccination for a large fraction to fight the delta variant.” She also expects that in pockets of the US with lower vaccine coverage, cases of delta variant could rise.
Experts from WHO reiterated that the delta variant is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations. However, the health agency quickly noted that “vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the delta variants.
Can masks keep the delta variant in check?
Public health experts are investigating whether booster shots of vaccines will be needed to protect the population against the new variant.
Hence, the WHO is once again highlighting the need to wear masks. “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” said Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, during a briefing at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, [practice] hand hygiene, [maintain] physical distance, avoid crowding,” she said,
Although Covid cases in the US have been steadily declining as vaccination rates are going up, it might be reaching an impasse. Joe Biden had set a target of immunizing 70% of adult Americans by July 4, but the country will fall short, reaching 67% of all eligible adults. Some 20% Americans say they don’t want to get the vaccine.
What is the delta plus variant?
The delta variant has developed a new mutation of a type that was first found in the Beta variant. The new variant—which is being labeled delta plus, though not officially by the WHO yet—additionally has the K417N mutation in its spike protein, which is associated with increased immunity escape.
Shahid Jameel, a top virologist in India, has said that delta plus could also render cocktail antibody treatments—like the one given to former US president Donald Trump—ineffective in fighting the disease. This variant could also potentially lead to vaccines being less effective. India has officially flagged delta plus a “variant of concern,” though after a great deal of indecision.
Menon says the delta plus variant is not a cause for worry yet but would be “if it began to replace the existing variants.” “Currently, there is no evidence that this is the case,” he says, “so there is no cause for immediate worry, but this may change, and we should be watchful for this.”
Mukherjee warns that India, where 40% of the population is below the age of 17 and not eligible for vaccines, needs to adhere to strong public health interventions to control the coronavirus pandemic. Besides scaling up vaccinations, she suggests better studies around the variants, an area where India has been particularly slow. “We need to study properties of these variants: what the clinical manifestations are, whether our diagnostic tests work well to detect them, whether treatments work well.”
The delta plus variant has now been detected in at least nine countries, including the UK, US, China, and Japan.