By Julia Galusiakowska – Art in Tanzania internship
On the cusp of the last years, ecology has been influencing our lives more and more, entering even the sphere reserved for tourism. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively thwarted our travel plans, many believe we are reaching the final phase of the global health crisis. Countries are expected to open to tourists in 2022, which will be a perfect opportunity to reconsider our travel plans. Many may go in the direction of ecotourism – a combination of tourism and ecology.
The roots of ecotourism
Ecotourism dates back to when the availability of means of transport increased, facilitating travels to all the corners of the world on a mass scale. The negative effects of this tourism boom first received global attention in the 1950s: activists called to limit tourism in the Alps and Mediterranean resorts. The topic resurfaced in the 1970s, when the then young generation developed pacifist and pro-environmental sentiments, especially in North American countries. At that time, people started to look for alternative tourist destinations and ways of traveling. However, a serious discussion among international scientific authorities took place only in the last decade.
How to travel responsibly?
An “ecotourist” thinks through every expedition decision, looking at their actions from the perspective of what is beneficial for the environment and local communities. Seems simple, right? Yet, many still wonder what it means to travel in an eco-friendly way.
1. Travel to a quiet destination: some argue that it is the road that matters – the destination is only a secondary issue. And yet, ecotourists should pay attention to where they go. Thorough research is essential before setting out on the road. The less known and quieter the neighborhood, the better. You won’t find an ecotourist walking on the mountain ranges that remain the most besieged by trekking enthusiasts. Also, it seems highly unlikely to meet him in places overrun with tourists. A trip with a small circle of friends would always win with the sprees organized by travel agencies.
2. Choose an eco-friendly means of transportation: green travelers, whenever possible, choose a means of transport that emits as little exhaust fumes as possible. Ideally, transportation and logistics problems may be solved by buying the right bike, panniers, tent, mat, and sleeping bag. The cyclist traveler is an example to follow with their emissions-free expeditions. However, if your curiosity of the world pushes you to the areas beyond the reach of a vehicle powered by your own muscles, you need to use transport using the engine’s power. That is why using public transport, taking a boat or hitchhiking are choices that declared environmentalists also look upon kindly. Although – in some cases – the use of the aircraft or your own car happens to be the only reasonable solution, it may be condemned by die-hard nature lovers. If we, however, decide to go for it, then to be in line with ecological trends, we should avoid “carrying air.” Answer: optimize the course by taking friends on board.
3. Respect nature: when visiting places with unique natural values, green tourists ensure that such conditions could be admired by the next ecotourists. To do that, they recommend:
-Following the local conservation laws: although ecotourism aims to bring us into contact with wildlife, admiring the animals in their natural habitat should be a collision-free experience. One cannot forget that we are just guests in their homes – a dense forest, an endless meadow, or a picturesque mountain range. All the bans usually serve the purpose of protecting fauna and flora.
-Taking care of rubbish: to be in harmony with the principles of ecotourism, one needs to leave the place their visiting in the same condition as they found it. If there are no rubbish bins on the route, every tourist must take back any waste.
-Reducing plastic use: if a tourist takes a reusable bottle on their trip, they can skip buying drinks in non-organic packaging. Remember that throwing a PET bottle in the trash is not a solution: decaying for hundreds of years, the plastic will stay in the region.
-Using biodegradable cosmetics: preparing for a camping trip organized in nature, it is advisable to pack hygienic products based on biodegradable substances.
4. Contact with the local communities: apart from the purely environmental aspect considering the tourism-nature relationship, there is also an interaction with the local communities that should be rethought. It is recommended to always behave ethically and make sure not to offend our hosts with some ill-considered gesture. Before leaving for a foreign country, every ecotourist should get to know the customs to such an extent as to avoid the typical “traps” that lurk for people from a different cultural background. Also, it seems crucial to restrain oneself from any negative judgments that always result from our misunderstanding of local customs and traditions. What is more, it is good practice to support local services and trade. A souvenir from a local artist can remind us of unforgettable moments and support the author of an artwork. Shopping done at the bazaar means not only that we will eat something fresh; it is also a cash injection for local farmers.
The future of ecotourism
Ecotourism is often gaining popularity in times of danger when a tense political situation or natural disasters start to discourage travel agents’ clients from choosing mainstream destinations. At that point, usual mass tourists happen to discover the benefits of this particular form of activity. Amidst the pandemic, this is what has been happening. Although the travel plans are currently deferred, people increasingly realize the potential of ecotourism. Will the world of the new normal be the same as it was before the pandemic? We don’t know that. However, the social distance may need to be maintained for a long time after the end of the COVID-19 era, meaning we can expect a shift from mass to individualized forms of tourism.
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
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.
While the continent possesses a wealth of natural and cultural resources, tourism in Africa has largely performed below expectations, and its sometimes poorly managed expansion has had long-term detrimental implications for both people and the environment. To achieve long-term and sustainable forms of tourism that are respectful of Africa’s rich natural and cultural heritage, tourist industry executives and policymakers must take into account the broader historical and socioeconomic background in which tourism is introduced. It is quite wondrous that such a huge land mass lying between the Indian Ocean as well as the great lake Victoria and lake Tanganyika provide an exceptionally rich assortments of tourist sites, ranging from the snowy Mt. Kilimanjaro and open volcano craters to the boundless plains, and from the large tropical rain forests to the warm emerald ocean with white sandy beaches. Some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife regions are located in the northern hemisphere, while others are distributed throughout the country in national parks and game reserves that are densely populated with animals which set amid some of the world’s most breathtaking landscape. Exotic wildlife hunting, fishing, and scuba diving in the Indian Ocean including the friendliness and innate courtesy of the people appeals the visitors in this region from all around the world.
Tourism Master Plan in Tanzania
Tanzania has a plethora of natural, cultural, and man-made attractions in almost every region but many of these are overlooked from the aspect of sustainable tourism development. Although there is huge potential in the country, not all locations are said to develop any time soon in the foreseeable future due to poor access to resources, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of utilities. Judging from the lack of infrastructure in remote areas of Tanzania, as well as a lack of utilities to put the plan into action, it summarizes that the last decade covered by the ten year Master plan in Tanzania, it is only proper to concentrate development efforts specifically in the parts of the country that lie between Mwanza and Mbeya. In accordance with the results of a poll conducted by the tour operators in Europe and US for the Master Plan, the majority believe that the condition, quantity, diversity and prospects of wildlife in Tanzania’s national parks surpasses to that of wildlife in rival destinations. Although the Northern Wildlife parts in Tanzania are becoming exceedingly packed with tourists, the majority of respondents stated that wildlife is not yet completely over crowded by tourists as it has the potential to compared to the competing destinations which also include hunting areas adjacent to the National Parks. The Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Wildlife Migration are World Heritage Sites and deemed as “unique wildlife watching opportunities”. Participants noted that Tanzania also has the potential to fetch a higher price for its Wildlife Watching, but only if the conditions for the tourism development, as well as the quality of the housing and services are enhanced. Sport hunting may arguably be the ultimate enigma of sustainable tourism. Even though the majority involved in conservation and nature tourism go against hunting and consider it ethically iniquitous, many still acknowledge that, if supervised properly, trophy hunting helps to reduce poaching, causes less environmental degradation, and significantly generates more foreign revenue.
First Sustainable Tourism Management Meeting
In October 2012 in Arusha, the Government of Tanzania hosted the ‘First Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Tourism Management in National Parks and Protected Areas: Challenges and Opportunities’. The conference was organized by the Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment in which participants discussed “park tourism” to be crucial and a key component to overall national park management in Africa. The meeting was also directed towards having better understanding of the present difficulties in the areas of demand and supply chain management. Moreover, they discussed at length new collaborations and business models for park management structures, with the goal of maximizing the economic and social advantages to the surrounding communities.
Through 1.28 million visitor arrivals in 2016 in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has since gained popularity on a global scale with its most popular sites being the Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar. Tanzania has always been prime destination for travelers seeking adventure and at the same time has steered clear from mass-market overdevelopment by capitalizing on its natural and cultural assets. Such model is a goal for many developing countries to emulate in the future. With a aim of attracting three million visitors per year by 2022, the government is attempting to develop the first new national tourism strategy expected to focus on high-value infrastructure.
Europe as Potential Tourism Market
According to an official with Tanzania’s Tourist Board, the government is now focusing its tourism marketing efforts in Eastern Europe after experiencing vast success in Western Europe and North America. In an interview with the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), Willy Lyimo, the TTB’s northern zone manager stated that the new market will add to the country’s otherwise traditional markets like that of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. After meeting with a delegation of travel agencies from Eastern Europe, Lyimo emphasized the importance of growth of new market in Tanzania’s tourism industry, stating that the country stands to gain significantly from it. “This is a distinctive opportunity to extend our base into rising markets.” He also highlighted the tourism potential in countries like Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Tanzania’s Tourism Board official was also optimistic about the promotion of the country’s natural resources across international travel expos due to the attention indicated by foreign travel agencies and tourism operators to attract tourists in Tanzania.
A representative from Ukraine’s BCD Travel described Tanzania as a well-established safari destination for many Ukrainians and said that his firm will continue to bring more tourists from the country. Because of the “pristine heritage” of Tanzania as well as “plenty of natural resources,” he says, “Tanzania is the ideal gateway for tourists from Ukraine.” Voloshyn was encouraged by the introduction of direct flights from Ukraine’s capital Kiev to the spice island of Zanzibar and believed that this development would help to open up Tanzania to the rest of Eastern Europe. In 2019, Tanzania begun a six-day tourism roadshow in several European nations to promote the country’s tourist attractions. According to Francis Malugu, marketing officer for the Tanzania Tourist Board, ten Tanzanian tourist enterprises participated in roadshows between 3rd June and 8th June in London, Brussels, Paris, and Lyon. In terms of foreign exchange, tourism is one of Tanzania’s most important sources, delivering an average of 2 billion US dollars per year, which is comparable to 25 percent of total foreign exchange earnings, according to government statistics. According to CHL Consulting Groups, the most popular tour programs in the “European market demand profile” include Beach resort, Safari, Single destination /sightseeing, and Dual destination safari/sightseeing. In this market demand profile, Beach resort is the most popular tour program desired by Europe. Safaris are also significantly high in demand, and same goes for beach tourism. While just 15% of the market seeks a vacation that consists solely of beaches, more than one-third i.e. 35% seeks a vacation that includes both a beach and a safari. Tanzania’s most important export markets include the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Scandinavia and Italy.
Earnings from visitors at tourist attraction sites in Tanzania in 2020
According to the Tanzanian Tourism Development Authority, the number of visitors to Tanzania’s tourism attractions resulted in earnings of nearly 17.4 billion Tanzanian shillings (around $7.5 billion US) in the fourth quarter of 2020. In comparison to the fourth quarter of 2019, the value was dropped by about 75%. According to the source, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was to blame for the decline in the stock market. Furthermore, the Northern and Lake zones accounted for nearly 90 percent of the overall revenue generated by visitor arrivals in the country.
Prospects for Tourism Development in Tanzania
After a period of being negatively impacted by external challenges, Tanzania’s tourist sector is experiencing tremendous growth once more. Privatized investment in resorts and hotels as well as government investment in infrastructure are expanding new tourist destinations in remote parts of the country. Nevertheless, the tourism industry is still faced with obstacles, such as the application of VAT and the consequences of austerity on business demand. However, the government’s new sector strategy, which is now being developed, should give new impetus as well as a framework that will allow new markets to be explored. Tourism in Tanzania, as in other parts of Africa, should play a developmental role that is in line with the aspirations of the local population. According to Mwalimu Nyerere, “You cannot develop people until they grow themselves.” Even with the continuous development of tourism, it will never be enough to solve all of the difficulties facing the country. However, it can at the very least provide some jobs, help to diversify the local economy, and enhance the quality of life of the people. Tanzania should also take into consideration the establishment of a truly sustainable tourism development program. Such a program necessitates real collaboration across disciplines as well as across the numerous gaps that exist between academics, policymakers, business leaders, and other interested parties and stakeholders. To achieve sustainable tourism potential in the local livelihoods as well as biological conservation, one of the most important challenges is to empower the local people to take initiatives and exercise control over their economic activities and resources. In order to reach sustainable tourism in Tanzania, there is definitely a long road ahead.