Since independence, Tanzania began its journey with economic dynamism until it was struck by the transition towards socialism which took a bad toll on the economy, and the 1980s global financial crisis which the country was not prepared for. From then onwards, growth became relatively slow and even more difficult to adjust towards the market economy. However, this growth rate gradually increased which is quite noticeable if we consider the past decade. It is considered that with the ongoing rate of growth, GDP is likely to double in the next two decades as the country has transitioned from the category of ‘low income’ countries to that of the ‘middle income’. Nonetheless, there are still concerns over the long-term sustainability considering the current elevated growth path. Tanzania has experienced immense political and economic developments in the past few years as well as adjustments in social welfare. This does not mean that there are no causes for concern, the country still has a long way to go to address the developmental challenges in significant areas such as rising population, corruption, divide between state and political parties, and distribution of wealth. Simultaneously, there are also new opportunities that may set the path to essential developments and reforms.
If we look at the political history of Tanzania, it has been relatively peaceful and has abode by the constitution even though there have been certain incidents in the past fifty years that have directed the country in different yet opposing paths. In the post-independent stage, Tanzania carried on with its colonial norms with an outbound marketing strategy. Gradually, it shifted towards the socialism stage intending to produce a self-dependent African socialist community that lasted 17 years. This stage underwent huge otherwise violent changes that greatly modified the minds of the people. Later, a new stage rose which attempted to retain the socialism stage injecting it with a liberal market economy and multi-party democratic system. Fast forward 13 years, this new stage is still running the country but the old seeds of socialism have not completely vanished from sight particularly in the civil servants and state-owned enterprises. On 19th March 2021, Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as the first woman to become the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. She is now the sixth president replacing former President John Magufuli after his death and served as Vice President from October 2015. Since her presidency, the government has made attempts to bring down corruption, strengthen public administration and infrastructure systems, enhance accountability and transparency, and improve management of resources. Under the 2020 Worldwide Governance Indicators, Tanzania has worsened in the years between 2012 and 2019 with the most deterioration occurring in the legislation, transparency, effective government, and freedom of media and civil societies.
So far, Tanzania has become a macro-economic success in the past 20 years. The economic growth rate accelerated from 3.5% in the 1990s to 7% in the early 2000s. Although the 1980s global developmental crisis considerably affected the economy, the country gradually bounced back, stabilized, and is expected to increase its growth rate in the upcoming future. Moreover, years of foreign aid and the rising economic growth have established great results in Tanzania but development issues such as unemployment and poverty cease to come to an end. Although Tanzania has done well economically compared to other countries in the region, the economic growth is still quite slow. The GDP rate declined from 5.8% in 2019 to 2.0% in 2020 while the per capita growth changed to negative. The economic growth is centered around building and manufacturing the supply sector while investments dealt with the demand. The Fiscal policies have backed up the growth rate and credit but have reduced from 7% in 2018 to 5% in 2020.
Path to Development?
Currently, due to the pandemic, the global economic crisis has had an immense impact on the industries dealing with exports particularly the tourism sector, and a massive decline in foreign aid. The prices of gold elevated however between 2019 and 2020 which seems to be the only benefited export from the pandemic. Even though the government did not imply heavy travel restrictions, the crisis enabled the industries and firms to endorse safe and preventive measures which hindered the economic activities locally. On the other hand, there has also been a decrease in imports which declined the monetary revenue and the production and consumption have also experienced a sharp reduction. The Covid-19 crisis has brought many challenges to the financial sector and the bank loans which continue to increase while the credit growth to the private sectors has relatively declined. The inflation rate was estimated at around 3.5% in 2019 which dropped to 3.3.% in 2020 because of a slow decline in goods and services. The Bank of Tanzania managed to keep the foreign exchange rates steady with multiple interventions to ensure balance in the exchange market. The monetary policies by the government assisted the spending and disbursements but the impact of the pandemic on revenues elevated the monetary deficit ranging from 2% in 2019 to 2.3% in 2020. Despite all the challenges, Tanzania has a positive economic outlook with GDP expected to grow from 4.1% in 2021 to 5.8% by 2022 as the travel and tourism sectors continue to improve and trade corridors begin to open. The increase in the prices of fuel and energy is anticipated to remain in 2021 which may raise the inflation to 3.9% by the end of 2021 eventually dropping to 3.4% by 2022. The low revenue and high expenditures on infrastructures and projects are anticipated to increase the monetary deficit of GDP to 3.2% in 2021 and 2022 which are financed mainly through foreign loans.
Tanzania’s steady growth in the past 20 years achieved a milestone in July 2020 when it was finally considered as a lower-middle income country from low-income status. This highlights the country’s potential for macroeconomic sustainability based on the economic growth rate, rich natural resources, and strategic geographical location. Now as a middle-income country, Tanzania has embarked on a Tanzania Development Vision 2025 which lays out the development goals it has set to achieve by 2025 ranging from quality of life, proper education, peacefulness, good governance, stability, and a competitive market equipped with sustainable economic growth and mutual benefits. The Gross National Income per capita has so far been impressive but not enough to meet these goals. Tanzania must start with investing in human development and capital and simultaneously build high-quality livelihoods for everyone in the country to reach such broad vision.
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.
Circumcision is defined as the surgical removal of the foreskin. The foreskin retractable fold of skin that covers the end of the penis. It is the continuation of the skin that covers the whole penis. Male circumcision has been shown to considerably reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection. Male circumcision is defined as the complete removal of the entire foreskin (the skin that can be rolled forward or back over the head of the penis) and it may be carried out for a number of reasons. Medical reasons:in men, circumcision is most commonly carried out when the foreskin is tight and won’t pull back (retract). Non-medical reasons:circumcision is a common practice in the Jewish and Islamic communities, and it’s also practiced by many African communities. Most non-medical circumcisions are carried out on children.
Medical reasons for men to have a circumcision
In men, circumcision is sometimes considered a possible treatment option for the following conditions.
Tight foreskin (phimosis): phimosis is where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis (glans). This can sometimes cause pain when the penis is erect and, in rare cases, passing urine may be difficult;
Recurrent balanitis: balanitis is where the foreskin and head of the penis become inflamed and infected;
Paraphimosis:paraphimosis is where the foreskin can’t be returned to its original position after being pulled back, causing the head of the penis to become swollen and painful. Immediate treatment is needed to avoid serious complications, such as restricted blood flow to the penis;
Balanitis xerotica obliterans:this condition causes phimosis and, in some cases, also affects the head of the penis, which can become scarred and inflamed;
Cancer of the penis: is a very rare type of cancer, where a red patch, wart-like growth or ulcer appears on the end of the penis or under the fore.
Male Circumcision Acceptability
In Tanzania Several observational studies have shown that the traditional patterns of circumcision in Tanzania are changing a substantial number of men belonging to traditionally noncircumcising tribes have been circumcised. For instance, the prevalence of male circumcision increased from 19% to 30% in 2004 in the traditionally non-circumcising populations in Mwanza Region. The prevalence of male circumcision was 21% in selected communities of Mwanza Region in 1994 and 54% in the 2003/04. The changes in the pattern of circumcision may be due to health reasons, social mixing between circumcising and non-circumcising cultures, desire for sexual pleasure. With regard to health reasons, circumcised men are believed to be less susceptible to STDs because the foreskin secretes dirty fluid which is a favourable medium for the growth of disease-causing agents and may be a source of bad smell and also circumcised men heal genital ulcers much faster compared to uncircumcised men. The urbanisation in Tanzania and the establishment of district capitals with government officials from all over the country has led to increased mixing of circumcising and noncircumcising ethnic groups. The mix of ethnic groups is most obvious in secondary schools, and has led to increased acceptance of male circumcision.
Rate of circumcised men in Tanzania
An estimated 70 percent of Tanzanian men are circumcised, according to government surveys, but prevalence varies from region to region. In some districts up to 80 percent of men especially in the western parts of the country are not circumcised. For this case there has to be more effort in providing more education to people so as to increase the rate of circumcised men and reduce the rate of transmission disease such as HIV, STD’S and other infections.
There is some evidence that circumcision has health benefits, including:
Less risk of urinary tract infections;
A reduced risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men;
Protection against penile cancer and a lower risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners;
Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin);
Prevention of phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) and paraphimosis (the inability to return the foreskin to its original location;
Circumcision also makes it easier to keep the end of the penis clean.
Like any other surgical procedure, there are risks in getting circumcision. But this risk is low. Problems linked to circumcision include:
Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision;
Irritation of the glans;
Higher chance of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis);
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.
To many GDH is new terminology but it bears most important value to the countries. Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a measurement of the collective happiness in a nation. Gross national happiness (GNH) is a measure of economic and moral progress that the king of the Himalayan country of Bhutan introduced in the 1970s as an alternative to gross domestic product. The kingdom of Bhutan’s first legal code, written at the time of unification in 1729, stated that “if the government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government.”. GNH has nine domain pillars of measurement which current work internationally. These pillars provide the foundation for the happiness, which is manifest in the nine domains of GNH: psychological well-being, standard of living, good governance, health, community vitality, cultural diversity, time use, and ecological resilience. In simple understanding is that the country that prefer people than self government interest by living with peace and harmony towards its citizens.
The value of GNH?
Encourage investment; the country with good Gross Domestic Happiness mean it will attract more foreign direct investment which will contribute to GNP (Gross Domestic Product) of the certain country. By FDI means more foreign investors will start their business in Tanzania and increase our national revenue. Moreover, it also encourages entrepreneurship and establishment of new companies and enterprises own by local resident (Tanzanians). Valuation of currency; increase of value of the currency like Tanzanian shillings depend on interest rate, exports and imports , the purchasing power of currency in internationally, foreign exchange reserves that means amount of currency held by foreign governments. Simply, the value of currency increases according to it circulation money within international borders by good diplomatic relation through international trade/financing/business. Which GDH can give you that good standard of living means available market, purchasing power of consumer and good money circulation. Good diplomatic relation internationally; GNH gives good governance and psychological well being this means the government can have good relationships to neighbouring countries and international collaborations to economically, politically, and socially. In psychological wellbeing means government through its resources can ensure life satisfactory in some degree of it services which create peace and harmony among the citizens. Mentally stable country bring relief to nearby countries and allow friendship due to available labour force, no political unrest which attract more investment to multinational companies and international relationship. Increase of production nationally; GDH gives that the government could build into its public policy decisions like good governance and sustainable development This is when government focus in public good to boost they are citizen economy and infrastructures like in Tanzania strategic cities projects which give formal and informal employment to the citizens. Building transportations means to the citizen to increase production from the farmers toward the producers, availability of water and electricity to the rural areas which stimulate production and lead to urbanisation of rural areas which bring closure factories to available raw material due to availability of public goods. Increase of national income; for citizen to enjoy their government the need sustainable income, example in Tanzania they use strategic project to build infrastructure of public goods like roads, railways, bridges aviation and marine transports. This is life satisfactory to the citizens by means of transportation, but it has income good side to government and individuals. It creates formal and informal employment to the citizens and at same time create income through toll like bridge toll at Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam creates income, air Tanzania can create national income, also marine transport in lake zones create employment and national income. If citizens are happy with their government, it means no political unrest and its national income will thrive.
There so much to talk about the Gross Domestic Happiness and the things can offer if considered. It is an alternative to Gross Domestic Product which it rather than focusing strictly on quantitative economic measures, gross national happiness considers an evolving mix of quality-of-life factors. The centre provides an overview of national performance across these pillars provide the foundation for the happiness, which is manifest in the nine domains of GNH: psychological well-being, standard of living, good governance, health, education, community vitality, cultural diversity, time use, and ecological resilience.
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.
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.