WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE AND WHAT ARE ITS EFFECT ON OUR PLANET? PART 1.2 

By Gabriel Andre – Art in Tanzania internship

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

Source

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).

Þ Melting ice zones 

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.

Þ Our forests are dying’s

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: 

  1. a warming of the air and soil temperature, destabilizing ecosystems, and biodiversity, 
  2. periods of drought and flooding that can deplete soils and kill the biosphere,   
  3. 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. 

Þ The two climate time bombs 

Thawing permafrost

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.

Methane Hydrate 

Another potential ‘climate bomb’ is methane hydrate. These are methane molecules trapped in ice. They are found in large quantities:

  • Under permafrost
  • 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?

WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE AND WHAT ARE ITS EFFECT ON OUR PLANET?

PART 1.1 

By Gabriel Andre – Art in Tanzania internship

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.

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.  

Source

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.

Source  

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.

The value of using GDH to the country, especially Tanzania

James Mathew Mgaya – Art in Tanzania internship

The nine domains of GNH

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.

The verdict

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.

COVID-19 Delta Variant

By Gwamaka Mwakyusa – Art in Tanzania internship

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.

Bagamoyo Port

By Alessandro Deligios – Art in Tanzania internship

In recent years China has been using their economic power to take more influence in the geopolitical arena. In accordance with the future model of geo-economic competition, China firstly, seems try to and become the leader State in Asia. Second, they are taking more power in many areas of the world. One of the strategies to extend their influence is by the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). This strategy focuses on financing projects in different areas of the world. China is able to deeply link the economy of various countries to theirs and are creating a global economic network that have Chinese economic and financial system as reference – the so-called Beijing consensus.

In particular China is focusing on East Africa and in this region Tanzania-China relationship is a key for Beijing to get a strategic economic position. In 2013 the former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete signed an agreement allowing China to invest in the financing of Bagamoyo port project, around which it should have place a special economic zone. China is expected to have special conditions such as water and energy provisions and security, as well as Tanzania wouldn’t have financing from another competitor port. But in January 2016 the project has been annulled by the President John Magufuli because the agreement for him was like selling Tanzania to Chinese investors.

In climate discussion we know that African countries are the most affected by the problem brought by climate changes, especially by the global warming. The continent probably will be exposed to longer periods of drought and water provision will be always more difficult. In regard to climate change, it is also known that China is one of the major countries that release the highest levels of greenhouse gases. Despite the attempts of the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 and started in 2005, and the Paris Agreement in 2016, emissions have not yet been limited in a satisfactory way. Developed countries have the responsibility to help the development in ecological transitions and the GEF (Global Environment Facility), a program managed by the UN and the Word Bank that give financing to developing countries to help in getting positive results related to four areas: climate changes, desertification, international water pollution, and biodiversity. Good results are got in third and fourth areas, but not in the first two.

At the start of April 2021, the First Minister Geoffrey Mwambe said that Tanzania would be ready for a new agreement about Bagamoyo port project if terms will be changed: in this Tanzania-China relations can be central for the ecological transition of all of Africa. Tanzania could advance conditions for the project according to the UN 2030 Agenda of sustainability goals, cooperating with others African countries for doing the same with others Chinese investments in Africa, when possible. With high chance China is interested in extending their economic influence in Africa to get more global diplomatic weight to be disposed to accept conditions of sustainability for her projects. It could be one of the few ways for China to do that – but not the only, other countries that would like investing in Africa – massively reduce their emissions. This will be more powerful based on how many countries will collaborate. It should be a priority, as it is important for fast growing economies to develop sustainably and must pressure developed countries, especially on China as big global players are trying to extend their own powers.

Sources:

– (About climate issue and international relations)

J. Grieco, G. J. Ikenberry, M. Mastanduno, Introduzione alle relazioni internazionali, UTET, 2017

– (About Bagamoyo port project)

D, Ayemba, Bagamoyo port project timeline and all you need to know, 15 April 2021, on Construction Review Online, https://constructionreviewonline.com/project-timelines/bagamoyo-port-project-timeline-and-all-you-need-to-know/.

P. Mittal, Tanzanian Bagamoyo Port Project Story, 16 September 2020, on Belt and Road News, https://www.beltandroad.news/2020/09/16/tanzanian-bagamoyo-port-project-story/.

A. D’Amaro, Un ponte tra Cina e Africa: il porto di Bagamoyo, Tanzania, 8 September 2020, on Lo Spiegone, https://lospiegone.com/2020/09/08/un-ponte-tra-cina-e-africa-il-porto-di-bagamoyo-tanzania/ .

Tropical Diseases in Africa – Malaria

by Shravya Murali – Art in Tanzania internship

As a significant health problem in several tropical regions of the world, malaria costs almost 435,000 lives annually. A substantial fraction of these deaths occurs in Africa. The proportion of cases and deaths In Tanzania alone constitutes to 3% of those globally. Over the past few years, the number of malaria cases have been on the rise, with a staggering increase by 3.5 million from 2016 to 2017 as reported by the WHO.

How does malaria spread?

Malaria in humans is caused by four kinds of parasites from the Plasmodium genus – Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium malariae. A fifth species Plasmodium knowlesi, is a zoonotic species infecting animals. Of the five species, P.falciparum results in the most severe form of malaria and is responsible for the majority of malaria-related deaths, especially among children below the age of five.

Malaria is transmitted to humans through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito that is infected by one of the malaria-causing parasites. The Anopheles mosquito can also spread the parasite from a human to another human when it feeds on an infected human’s blood meal, and later goes to bite another human.

Human-to-human transmission can also occur through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or sharing needles containing contaminated blood as the malaria parasite can be found on red blood cells. Malaria can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her child before or during delivery, which is also known as congenital malaria.

However, malaria is not contagious and cannot be transmitted through casual contact (i.e., by sitting next to someone infected) or sexual contact.

What are the effects of the disease?

Those infected with malaria often experience flu like illnesses and fever. Symptoms often include headache, fatigue, chills, muscle soreness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. As malaria can cause a loss of red blood cells it may lead to anemia, and jaundice, which is the yellow colouring of skin and eyes. If left untreated malaria becomes life-threatening as it can cause kidney failure, mental confusion, seizures, coma, and death. Usually, these symptoms occur about 10 days after a malaria infection.

Malaria caused by P.vivax and P.ovale may occur again and the parasites may reside in the liver for up to around four years after an individual has been bitten by an Anopheles mosquito. These dormant parasites may become active later and invade the individual’s red blood cells, causing another malarial infection.

How is malaria treated?

If a patient is suspected to be infected with malaria, a drop of his/her blood is often observed under a microscope to detect the malaria parasite. Treatments for malaria vary based on the severity of malaria, clinical status of the patient, the Plasmodium species causing the infection, and prior use of anti-malarial drugs.

In Mainland Tanzania, artemether lumefantrine, a drug that can be orally consumed, is used for uncomplicated malaria. In Zanzibar, however, artesunate and amodiaquine are used. For severe malaria, artesunate and quinine are injected in patients in both Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. Quinine is another drug that is only used when other drugs are ineffective, as quinine is known to have more side effects than the others. However, quinine is used to treat malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy as it is not known to have significant effects on the child at therapeutic doses.

What could be done to prevent the disease?

To prevent malaria, one could consume anti-malarial drugs (i.e., atovaquone, chloroquine, doxycycline). While it is possible to provide infants and children some of these drugs, not all drugs are suitable for children and doses are based on the weight of the child.

Apart from anti-malarial drugs, one should also prevent mosquito bites (specifically at night), which could be done by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, wearing fully covered / long-sleeved clothing at night, and carrying an insect repellent.

With the increase in the number of malaria cases over the years, it is crucial that members of the public and healthcare professionals cooperate in fight against the disease. While the research for vaccination against malaria is ongoing, it is also essential for everyone to play a part by taking precautions to avoid malaria.

References:

1. Carfagno, J. (2018, July 16). Noninvasive Malaria Test Wins Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize. Docwire News. https://www.docwirenews.com/docwire-pick/future-of-medicine-picks/noninvasive-malaria-test-wins-royal-academy-of-engineerings-africa-prize/

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 26). CDC – Malaria – About Malaria – FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/faqs.html.

3. Mutabazi, T. (2021, June 6). Assessment of the accuracy of malaria microscopy in private

health facilities in Entebbe Municipality, Uganda: a cross-sectional study. Malaria Journal. https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-021-03787-y

4. Ryan, S. J. (2020, May 1). Shifting transmission risk for malaria in Africa with climate

change: a framework for planning and intervention. Malaria Journal. https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-020-03224-6

5. Tanzania. Severe Malaria Observatory. (2007, January 17). https://www.severemalaria.org/countries/tanzania.

6. Thomas, D. L. (2020, March 13). Triple therapies effective and safe in malaria. News. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200312/Triple-therapies-effective-and-safe-in-malaria.aspx

Sport Inspires

By Racquel Hudson – Art in Tanzania internship

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than the government in breaking down racial barriers.” – Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela’s quote holds an accurate depiction of the effect that sports have on individuals and groups of people all over the world. Mandela expresses how sports can end the divide between people and cultures as well as inspire people to come together. Sports allow people to build bonds and establish relationships that typically would not have occurred in another setting. It is a form of communication that encourages people to express themselves through play. Essentially, in most countries, sport is not entirely competition-based. Instead, they are portrayed as an activity in which people can get out to have fun and exercise. There is less pressure on winning and more pressure on the expectation that people are communicating and expressing themselves with those around them.

In terms of children, sports help bring them out of their comfort zone and bring them great joy.  It is not always necessarily about competition, rather it is how it can make you grow and benefit as an individual. Sports are for people of all ages and backgrounds, which provides  structure for unity than any other method. It is all about what you like to do, who you engage yourself with, and how much you are willing to explore your options and try things that you did not expect to do.

Furthermore, sports are an essential source of socialization and social integration for informing young people and further their development. Social interaction through team sports teaches young people to associate with their friends, solve and prevent conflicts, communicate, and socialize better with their teammates. Whether it is the friends you bring or the people seated next to you, sporting events bring people together.  Perhaps it is the common interest in the different teams that starts the conversation. Whatever the reason, if you talk to any sports fan, you are bound to hear a story or two about mid-game encounters with interesting people.

For instance, sports in South Africa are largely separated into different parts on ethnic lines. In South Africa, sports are treated as a national religion, language group, and transcending race that helps unify the entire country. The focus of sport is primarily to create an active and winning nation. It focuses on bringing many opportunities for Africans to celebrate in sport while still instilling country values.

Especially, football(soccer) without a doubt is one of the most popular sports admired by most Africans. Football is an exciting game with origins tracing back to the 1800s, when the British, French, and Portuguese colonists introduced the sport to Africa. Unlike other sports, football required minimal resources, and for this reason, it has penetrated every part of Africa. Many African footballers had to surmount some obstacles, including poverty, amongst other things before they achieved all the glitz and glamour they are now associated with. The football talent in Africa mostly begins at the grassroots level, and for this reason, many football stars come from hardship.

Fredrick Odhiambo, also known as Abedi, was born in the city of Kisumu in Kenya. He grew up in the poorest neighborhood out of Manyatta. Like many people from that area, life was not easy. To Fredrick and other fellow African athletes, football is everything. It is not only something to keep them busy and out of trouble, but it was also a chance at a better life —a way out of poverty. Abedi fell in love with football at the age of ten, where he quickly began to establish himself as a leader playing as a center-back. He once said, “Growing up in the slums, if I didn’t play football, I would have never gone to school.” He grew up in a family of seven kids, where his parents could not afford to take them to school. One evening, he went out to play on the football field, some high school coaches noticed his talents and agreed to pay for his schooling. He received an opportunity to attend school, whereas thousands in his village are not as lucky.   Abedi’s journey growing up as a kid lead him to create a program and organization for people that were like himself and give them the opportunity to be included and engage positively as kids. 

On another account, Yaya Toure grew up with similar hardships as Abedi and used football as an outlet in order to prevail. Growing up with his four other siblings and both parents, Yaya Toure often tried to normalize his childhood experiences whenever he spoke about it, but the truth is he grew up poor. According to Toure, ” I did not have football boots until he was ten years old because his parents could not afford them.” However, his boots later served him as he impressed the coaches at the Asec Mimosas academy. He earned himself a move to Europe with Dutch club Waasland Beveren. That move served as a springboard that opened new opportunities at European clubs such as Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos, Monaco, Barcelona, and Manchester City. Yaya Toure had a long and distinguished career that saw him win two La Liga titles, one Champions League, one Copa del Rey, three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Nations Cup, and many others. Safe to say, he made up for all of his childhood struggles. He is a four-time African footballer of the year grant champ now and routinely is in the discussion of most noteworthy African footballers.

Tanzania’s Football team

Athlete development is a continuous process. It begins when an athlete first engages in a sport until an athlete withdraws from the sport itself. There are various stages of learning that outline the various stages of learning that an athlete undergoes to acquire new skills and techniques. Youth athletes are among some of the hardest-working people all across the world. Many factors contribute to their success. However, athletes at all levels have their motivation and will that push them to strive for greatness. We all have obstacles and hardships along the way, yet it is the process, the hope, the unity we partake in the sport of football that molds us along the way. Sport has the power to inspire.  

The value of using Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) in a country (Tanzania)

James Mathew Mgaya – Art in Tanzania internship

To many Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH)/ Gross National Happiness (GNH) is new terminology but it bears most important value to the countries. Gross Happiness (GNH) is a measurement of the collective happiness in a nation.  The king of the Himalayan country of Bhutan introduced Gross National Happiness (GNH) in the 1970s as a measure of economic and moral progress 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 currently work internationally. These pillars provide the foundation for the happiness, which is manifested into the nine domains of GNH: psychological well-being, standard of living, good governance, health, community vitality, cultural diversity, time use, and ecological resilience. In short, the country prefers people than self-governed interests by living with peace and harmony towards its citizens.

The value of GNH?

Encourage investment; a country with good Gross Domestic Happiness mean will attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) which will contribute to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the certain country. More FDI means more foreign investors will start their business in Tanzania and increase our national revenue. In addition, it also encourages entrepreneurship and establishment of new companies and enterprises owned 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, and foreign exchange reserves (the amount of currency held by foreign governments). Simply, the value of currency increases according to its circulation money within international borders by good diplomatic relations via international trade/financing/business. GDH can give a good standard of living. This means there will more available markets, purchasing power of consumer, and good money circulation.

Good diplomatic relation internationally; GNH gives good governance and psychological well-being. This leads to governments that can have good relationships to neighbouring countries and international collaborations economically, politically, and socially. Psychological wellbeing means, through its resource’s government can ensure life satisfactory in some degree of its services, creating peace and harmony among the citizens. Mentally stable countries bring relief to nearby countries and allow friendship due to available labour forces, no political unrest which attracts more investments to multinational companies and international relationship.

Increase of production nationally; GDH gives the government opportunity to build into its public policy decisions like good governance and sustainable development This is when government focus is on public good, boosting their citizen economy and infrastructures like in Tanzania’s strategic cities projects which gives formal and informal employment to the citizens. Building transportations means for the citizen to increase production from the producers towards the consumers, availability of water and electricity to the rural areas stimulating production and leading to urbanisation of rural areas which increases the connectivity between factories and available raw material.

Increase of national income; for citizens to enjoy, their government the needs sustainable income. For example, in Tanzania they use strategic projects 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, bringing good income good to government and individuals. It creates formal and informal employment to the citizens while simultaneously creating income through toll bridges,  like Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam. Air Tanzania can create national income, and 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.

The verdict

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 rather focuses 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, providing the foundation for the happiness, which is shown 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.

Natural Attractions of Zanzibar

By Farzad Ghotaslou – Art in Tanzania internship

Zanzibar is popular weekend trip for Art in Tanzania volunteers and interns in Dar es Salaam. It is also a destination for our safari and Mt. Kilimanjaro clients to relax after their safari of climb. We commonly tailor the Zanzibar stay; usually night or two at the historical stone town with day trips and then total relaxation at the beach. Zanzibar is not only a place to lay on the beach. There are many options to enjoy the exhausting beauty of that this tropical Island provides. Some of them listed below.

Zanzibar have been inhabited for many hundreds of years and although ancient records refer to imported elephants and other iconic species, you won’t find any of Africa’s major land mammals here today.

Jozani Forest has several habitats including swamp forest, evergreen thickets, mangroves, as well as a variety of wildlife, including Sykes and Red colobus monkeys, bush pigs, Ader’s duiker and suni antelopes, elephant shrews, chameleons, and lots of birdlife.

It is best known for its red colobus monkeys, which are endemic to Zanzibar. About 20 years ago, the monkeys were in danger of extinction. This trend has since reversed due to the conservation project. There are about 6000 red colobus monkeys residing in Jozani Forest.

After visiting the red colobus, you will walk across to the Pete-Jozani Mangrove Boardwalk. It entwines through coral thicket vegetation, mangrove forest and across a creek. You walk through mangrove forest, which is extremely crucial to Zanzibar’s ecosystems, providing a habitat for many lizards, snakes and birdlife as well as preventing the coastal erosion.

Most visitors to this vast and scenic spread of green, a biodiversity hotspot that’s part of Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, come in hopes of sighting the rare red colobus monkey. Thousands of years of isolation from sibling species on the African mainland have made this simian specimen a special beauty, with distinct cries and vibrant coats. There are nature trails through shafts of sunlight where butterflies flicker, a boardwalk that descends into mangrove swamps and the very faintest chance of a leopard sighting – although don’t get your hopes up too much, as the last was decades ago.

Numgwi

You’ve come to the Indian Ocean to sink your toes into coral sands as pure and pale as caster sugar – and the place to do that is Nungwi, on the northwesternmost tip of Zanzibar. There’s a DoubleTree Resort by Hilton here, plus a few lodges immersed in tropical gardens, beach cottages and sea-view restaurants, yet the place has not fallen victim to swarms of international tourists, and islanders mingle casually with visitors. The water sports are plentiful, as are sundown cruises, and you can organise deep-sea fishing excursions in search of leaping sailfish and mean-looking bull dorado.

Also known as Mji Mkongwe, Stone Town is the ancient part of Zanzibar City, which is itself capital of Unguja island. Visit and you’ll get a perfect picture of how the old Swahili trading towns of East Africa look, sound, feel, taste and smell. With Islamic prayer calls on the air and atmospheric winding old alleys redolent of spices at every turn, this settlement is the heart and soul of the island. Admire elegant stone buildings, sip chai and coffee from busy vendors, and eat fresh fish dinners laced with coconut. Stone Town mixes Persian, Arabic, Indian and European legacies to create a destination to remember.

Stone town

Forodhani Market

In the thick of Stone Town, as the afternoon dims towards evening, Forodhani Gardens transforms into a circus of calorific magnificence: welcome to Zanzibar’s spectacular night-time food market, a whirl of chefs juggling spitting pans. The aromas are fabulous, and the range of dishes is extraordinary. Bring a large appetite. You might be familiar with some of the offerings – kebabs of tandoori lobster, say, or falafel as big as your fist. Our favourites are the fish plates served with fried potato balls, naan and samosas. You won’t need to eat for a week – or maybe just not until the same time, same place tomorrow.

Nakupenda Beach

Nakupenda (Swahili for I love you) is the name of a slender slice of sandbank just off the coast of Stone Town. And what’s not to love? Abutting the brilliant blue of the ocean, this tiny beach is an idyll of sand as soft and white as baby powder. It’s the perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling in clear waters flickering with marine life and generally keeping cool under the hot African sun. If you’re lucky you might glimpse the local superstars – the much-loved dolphins, doing their own thing in the distance.

Prison Island:

The prison – which is now owned by a hotel – was built in 1893 and was originally intended to house violent prisoners from the mainland and sick people.

You will get the opportunity to visit the tortoise sanctuary, which contains a large colony of giant tortoise imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century. The average weight of these creatures is 200 kg, and many of them are said to be over 150 years old. There will be a chance to touch the tortoise and take photos. The island is also a home to a colony of beautiful peacocks.

For the rest of the trip, you can either enjoy the marine life as you snorkel around the coral that fringes Prison Island or just relax under the warm glow of the sun, until you head back to Stone Town.

Chumbe Island:

The Chumbe Island Coral Park is an award-winning private nature reserve and one of the last pristine coral islands around. It is the home of many rare and endangered animals that are protected here. The Park includes a fully protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve, a visitor and education center, nature trails, historical ruins, and eco-bungalows for overnight guests.  Chumbe Island is one of the most beautiful islands of Zanzibar and a prime example for sustainable tourism.

You get to snorkel in the most colorful underwater world with a huge variety of fish, corals, turtles, and other fascinating sea creatures. Learn about the marine life, forest, and nature reserve from professional guides. Enjoy a tour of one of the 7 eco-bungalows available for overnight guests, taste the delicious Swahili cuisine for lunch and enjoy the exclusive atmosphere of a secluded island.

Spice Tour:

Spice Tour is one of the most popular excursions on the Island.
In days past, Zanzibar was known as a spice island, exporting cloves, vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom across the world. The spices were brought over from Asia and South America and flourished in the tropical climes.
Nowadays the plantations are a tribute to the island’s past, swapping spices for tourism, combining both in a spice tour.

If variety is the spice of life, then Zanzibar is nature’s supermarket. East Africa’s favorite island playground, Zanzibar appeals to those who want to heighten their senses in a kaleidoscopic world of flavors. The island is renowned for its exotic aromas, spices and herbal remedies, and discovering these delights in their natural home makes for a… well, spicy adventure!

Over the course of centuries, traders arrived at Zanzibar’s port on route across the Indian Ocean to discover new world trade.

The original settlers on the island were Bantu-speaking Africans. At the turn of the 16th century, Portuguese traders established themselves in Zanzibar as part of their quest to take over East Africa. They brought with them various plants from their own colonies across India and South America. Fast forward 200 years later; Arabs set up trading companies on the island, drawing a close to Portuguese dominance over Zanzibar.

It wasn’t until 1832 that Zanzibar’s tropical climate and fertile soils were taken advantage of to make Zanzibar the spice island it is today. The Omani Sultan, Seyyid Said, moved his empire capital from Muscat to Stone Town to cultivate the production of cloves, which was traded like gold at the time. It wasn’t just the flavors that was a winner with taste buds — cloves were used as a common method of curing and preserving meats long before the refrigerator.

When the island’s other main trade — slavery — was abolished, the spice trade continued to flourish, bestowing wealth and flavors that led to the island’s legendary moniker, ‘the Spice Island.’

Walk through the spice farm with your guide. Touch, smell and taste different spices and tropical fruits. Try to guess which is which, from the crushed leaves, the fruit, shoots and vines and creepers crawling up the Zanzibar Spice Tour trees.

Today, the spice tourism trade is booming with various farms of spices and exotic fruits dotted inland.

The spices grown in these plantations add flavors to the distinctive cuisine of the island, provide numerous cures for everyday ailments, and are ingredients in cosmetics and the colorful dyes needed to celebrate festive gatherings. From henna to lipsticks, pillows to medicine, many useful plants are woven into the fabric of Zanzibar’s culture and industry.

On my tour, a local guide led me through a spice farm, from plant to plant, tasting and discussing the significances and uses of each.

Walking through one of Zanzibar’s inland spice farms makes you feel like you are in a scene from the ’90s family movie, ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids,’ thanks to a soaring canopy of evergreen trees that makes you feel miniature. This is especially the case when you find yourself caught under leaves that are taller than you! Among the tropical greens and coconut palms is the exotic kapok tree, famed for its height, hollow trunk, and spikes. The tree itself can grow up to 200 feet, towering over the rainforest, and the spikes give off the dramatic appearance of a medieval torture device. And yet, the tree shreds its spikes once it matures, and its fibers are used to produce something soft: mattresses and pillows.

Bring your make-up bag, as another fascinating plant you’ll spot is the bright, red-hued lipstick tree. Inside its furry red fruits are hard, deep red seeds that are used as industrial dye in food preparation and cosmetics. The henna plant is also found here, most known for creating stunning and intricate patterns on the skin, of course, but what you might not know is that it is also used to incite natural abortions.

But the most alluring part of walking through the spice farms is seeing what spices look like in their natural state as opposed to a local grocer’s store shelf. A shopping list of spices can be found here: pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, chili, peppermint and allspice with its dried berries pleasantly smelling like a fusion of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg

Despite losing its claim to be the world’s biggest clove producer to Indonesia, Zanzibar still produces what is referred to as the ‘King of Spices’ in vast amounts. Cloves are not only a flavors enhancer but its oil, eugenol, acts as a food preservative. It can also be used for medical purposes, as a relief for nausea, gas and vomiting. It can also help control the pain from a toothache.

Zanzibar’s spice farms not only produce spices to eat but also exotic fruits to consume. The red banana, guava and jackfruit trees capture your attention due to their brightness and the sheer size of the fruits. Seeing an almond plant makes for fun piece of trivia to quiz friends back home: did you know it takes roughly 100 days for one nut to be produced from one fruit? No wonder almonds don’t come cheap!

Mother Nature really wanted to spice up the lives of all Zanzibar’s occupants, and with a visit to one of its exotic plantations, you’ll see that for yourself. Zanzibar is a natural mega-mart with spices, fruits, natural cures, manufacturing materials and cosmetics all readily available — just bring an empty bag!

Dolphin Swimming

Traditional small boats pick up tourists and take them snorkeling on the coral reefs and swimming alongside dolphins. While bottle-nose dolphins are very playful and easy-going, humpback dolphins are rather shy and prefer to avoid people. Dolphins are especially abundant along the Fumba peninsula.

You should avoid sudden movements and allow the dolphins to come to you and do not chase the dolphins by boat! Also, the best time to encounter them is typically early in the morning.

The best period for seeing and swimming with dolphins is during the dry season, which runs from January to February and from June to October.

Try to avoid the rainy season because the visibility is not as good.

Ruaha The most beautiful national park in Tanzania

By: Farzad Ghotaslou –  Art in Tanzania Internship

Ruaha National Park in the centre of Tanzania takes its name from the Hehe word for ‘river.’ The eponymous Great Ruaha River serves as a lifeline for the park’s wildlife. Although it’s the largest national park in the country and rich in wildlife, Ruaha is one of the least busy places to visit in Tanzania, so safaris here feel remote and exclusive.

Ruaha has a bimodal pattern of rain forest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The park experiences its dry season between June and October.

In the dry season, visitors can expect to see golden savannah studded with baobabs and misty hills stretching along the horizon. With the annual rains, the grasslands become a lush green and the baobabs bloom.

Waterbuck, impala and gazelle come to the river to drink and predators are never far behind. You may spot lion or leopard prowling watchfully along the banks, or cheetah lying in wait on the plains, while skulking jackal and hyena are on the lookout for an opportunity to catch their next meal.

Ruaha is easily combined with a Serengeti safari or Zanzibar beach break. It also partners well with the Selous. Fly from Arusha or Dar es Salaam to one of Ruaha’s two airstrips.

History of Ruaha National Park

Ruaha does not have an extensive history like other areas in Tanzania. It is thought that early permanent settlers were dissuaded by the semi-arid climate and the high concentrations of tsetse fly. (Conservation efforts have recently reduced the levels of tsetse fly making visiting here a more comfortable experience today!) The transformation of this vast area into a national park was first proposed by George Rushby (a Senior Game Ranger) in 1949. Two years later all the residents were forced out of this protected area and in 1964 Britain elevated Ruaha to full national park status. In 2008 the Usangu Wildlife Management Area was incorporated into the park creating the 20,000Km² Ruaha National Park that we know today.

How to get there

By Air-There are both scheduled and chartered flights into the park mainly from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam. Park’s airstrips are located at Msembe and Jongomero

The park is about 130 kilometres  west of Iringa. It is a part of the 45,000 square kilometres Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem, which includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.

By road-It is about 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dar-es-salaam city.

The road into the park is passable throughout the year.

Wildlife

Ruaha National Park is renowned for its excellent wildlife-sighting opportunities. Combined with the low numbers of visitors, this makes it a spectacular destination.

The wider Ruaha area hosts 10% of the world’s lion population and has been a Lion Conservation Unit since 2005. It’s not uncommon to find prides of more than 20 lion in the park. Leopard stalk the thicker woodland areas, while cheetah can be found scanning the plains for prey. The wild dog is endangered, but Ruaha is home to almost 100 of them. There are healthy populations of hyena and black-backed jackal too.

The park was formerly known for its large elephant population. It had numbered 34,000 in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem in 2009, before declining to only 15,836, plus or minus 4,759, in 2015.

Elephant are seen in high densities during the dry season, when they gather around the dry riverbed to dig for water with their trunks and front feet. The park is also home to plentiful buffalo, zebra, giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala.

There are more than 570 species of birds, including the eponymous Ruaha red-billed hornbill. Migrant birds from Europe, Asia, Australia and Madagascar arrive during the rainy season between February and April. 

 In addition, Ruaha is populated by large herds of buffalo, major and minor kudus, Grant’s gazelles, African wild dogs. , ostriches, cheetahs and tawny and black antelopes, as well as more than 400 bird species. The latter are particularly numerous along the Great Ruaha River, which meanders in the eastern part of the park and also offers shelter to many hippos and crocodiles.

The Ruaha is also distinguished by its rugged and magnificent topography, particularly in the Great Ruaha area. The park extends mostly on an undulating plateau at about 900 m of altitude, dotted here and there by rock formations and groups of baobabs, while to the south and west rise mountains that reach a height ranging from about 1600 m to 1900 m. The territory is crossed by several rivers of “sand”, most of which dry up completely in the dry season and whose beds are used by animals as corridors to reach the little water left. The combination of rugged river scenarios, large quantities of animals that can be easily seen (during the dry season) and good solutions for overnight stays make this place truly incomparable.

In high season, the area surrounding the campsites, in the eastern part of the park, is crowded with tourists, but Ruaha is generally less crowded than the northern parks. There are still large unexplored areas and, if you exclude the high season from August to October, it can happen quite easily to have the park all to yourself. Whichever period you come, however, budget as long as you can to visit it: this is not a place to be seen only in passing.

More than 571 species of birds have been identified in the park. Among the resident species are hornbills. Many migratory birds visit the park.

Other noted animals found in this park are East African cheetah and lion, African leopard and wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, hippopotamus, African buffalo, and sable antelope. Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit.

Ruaha is a year-round destination, though birders may want to visit when the migratory birds are in the area and photographers, around the rains, when the landscape tends to be more photogenic.

For birders, the best time to visit Ruaha is during the long rains between February and April, when the migrant birds arrive. The wet season is a time when the park is at its lushest, with wildflowers peppering the rich, verdant grasslands. This is also an excellent time for landscape photographers to visit.

The park is characterized by semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species. There are over 1,650 plant species that have been identified.

The weather in Ruaha

The climate in Ruaha works slightly differently to what you might expect. Ruaha is located to the west of the Udzungwa Mountains, which run roughly north-south through central Tanzania. This geographic divide results in Ruaha having one long rainy season rather than the typical long rains and short rains found in Tanzania’s more famous safari areas. The rains in Ruaha usually start around November or early December, becoming heavier in January and February, and then start to dwindle towards the end of March. Do bear in mind that climate change has been altering the typical weather patterns for some years, so forecasting the weather you will have on your trip can be extremely difficult. However, it’s fair to say that Ruaha can often be a surprisingly good destination in the so-called low season of April and May, with clear blue skies and the park appearing lush and green. With plentiful food after the rains, the animals are likely to be in great condition and this is when many species will be breeding and birthing.

References:

  1.  “Tanzania National parks Corporate Information”. Tanzania Parks. TANAPA. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  2. Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area. Twma.co.tz. Retrieved on 14 September 2016.
  3.  “Tanzania: 5 Reasons To Visit Ruaha National Park”. HowAfrica.com. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  4.  “Research”. Ruaha Carnivore Project. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  5.  IUCN Cat Specialist Group (2006). Conservation Strategy for the Lion Panthera leo in Eastern and Southern Africa. Pretoria, South Africa: IUCN.
  6.  Karl Mathiesen (2 June 2015). “Tanzania elephant population declined by 60% in five years, census reveals”. The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  7.  Adelhelm Meru, Permanent Secretary, Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (2 November 2015). “Press Release: Ruaha-Rungwa Ecosystem Elephant Census Results, 2015”. Retrieved 15 March 2015 – via Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute.
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