The Economic Consequences of Climate Change in Tanzania

Romaisa Hussain – Art in Tanzania Internship

Keywords: sustainability, climate change, environment, economic growth

Climate change has emerged as a potentially existential threat all across the globe that poses a serious risk to the survival of mankind and sustainable development. Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming and human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Based on a numerous lines of evidence, it is now more certain than ever that climate change is a threat multiplier that can amplify the effects of existing dangers. These threats include human security, scarcity of natural resources, environmental degradation, and poor economic growth.

The United Nations General Assembly set up the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 which serve as a blueprint for a sustainable future to be achieved by 2030. The 13th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations talks about Climate Action. The goal discusses the critical impact of climate change and encourages developing countries to move towards low-carbon emission in the environment. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is a separate organisation working within the UN that deals with climate change and other environmental issues. The UN aims to adapt to low carbon development especially in the vulnerable regions that contribute towards climate action and sustainable natural resource management through collective action. Most of the states in the world are affected by climate change with East Africa being one of the most affected regions.

Tanzania is suffering the brunt of the consequences of climate change in East Africa. The agricultural-based economy of Tanzania has become vulnerable to the extreme climatic conditions. The majority of the population is located in the rural areas which heavily relies on agriculture and farming that is threatened by rising temperatures, droughts, and extreme rainfalls. The country is home to the world’s largest river system, the River Tanzanian. Despite immense water resources, Tanzania struggles with a shortage of water both spatially and temporally, which is worsened by the climate on its nine main river basins. In the recent years, there has been a severe decline in the water level in Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, and Lake Jipe, as well as a decrease in the water level of about 7 kilometers in Lake Rukwa during the last fifty years. These are connected with climate change and are endangering towards socio-economic activities. The effect also puts the country’s hydropower system at risk. Furthermore, diseases such as diarrhea and malaria remain one of the prime causes of casualties in the country especially in the urban settlements consisting of poor infrastructure prone to flooding and increased temperatures. 

Tanzania’s economy relies on its natural and environmental resources where a good number of people depend on fisheries for their income which are at risk from rising sea waters and freshwater temperatures. Tourism is another aspect that has the potential to boost the economy of Tanzania as the country has a tropical climate and is home to wildlife, forests, beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes, and minerals. The attractions are found in abundance in national and marine parks, historical and cultural sites, and recreational sites. Currently, tourism generates 17.5 per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of export revenues, making it an important economic sector. Due the unpredictability of climate it is endangering the ecosystem services on which tourism relies. For example, the Serengeti National Park has been famous tourism spot for the wildlife migration for decades, contributing significantly to Tanzania’s economy and serves as a key source of employment. There is a growing fear that the climate has shifted dramatically, potentially affecting wildlife tourism. 

Threats to the sustainability of the natural resources and environmental degradation remain an issue in Tanzania such as the untimely harvesting and usage of natural resources, unsupervised cultivation process, and trespassing on water sources. Collectively, these can seriously affect the sustainable development goals of a country. Due to the unsustainable consumption of resources, there can be problems in the production of sources that may affect livelihoods. In addition to that, they can lead to the deficiency of food which could eventually lead to poverty. An increase in the population and high reliance on agriculture becomes rather burdensome on the environment and its natural resources which contribute negatively to climate change and water-deficient regions. 

One of the leading contributing factors to the environmental degradation is the unsustainable management of land and watershed. Many challenges are still needed to be tackled to reduce this issue including unexpected growth of human settlements, wildlife hunting, illegal farming and livestock, uncontrollable bushfires, weak inter-sectoral association, and stakeholder linkages. This may lead towards the social and economic development of the country as well as reduce poverty. The Tanzanian Government has marked the water-oriented issues as a major factor that has affected the environment. This has led to the implementation of national policies and necessary plans and strategies needed to tackle it. The visibility of climatic changes in Tanzania is increased by 60% which are seen in the form of a decrease in water sources, land degradation and the reduction in agricultural land. The Government also tends to focus on carbon emission with the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, the saving of wildlife to abolish the hunting system as a means of income, reducing vehicle usage and improving urban planning in the country to promote urbanization. It also placed environmental sections under the sector ministries to ensure and monitor the environmental issues as well as raising awareness amongst the community. The Government also needs to guarantee that efforts are being made in terms of the development of the environment and climate change in national as well as subnational plans. 

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is one among many partners of the Government of Tanzania that has aided in the development of the environment and contributed to measures regarding natural resources and climate change issues. The UNDP encourages the Government and respective communities in terms of sustaining the environment and contributing to the reversal of environmental degradation. As long as the correct policies are implemented, the chances for preserving the ecosystems in terms of food, energy, wood i.e., timber, clean water, consistent climate etc. are possible. Over the past few years, Tanzania has recently experienced high growth rates of about 7.4%.

The impact of climate change has had a huge effect on the incomes of the people in Tanzania. It has had a severe impact on the economy, agriculture, natural resources, and livelihoods of people which exposes the vulnerable part of the country. It is, to say the least, that the Government of Tanzania is to be respected for the progress it has made regarding the development and exercising of policies and strategies to prevent degradation and the protection of the environment. The Government tends to cater to the environmental needs of the country and maintain its natural resources as a means of saving economic and social development. This would mean effectively establishing immediate measures to improve the damages caused. The Government also needs to guarantee that efforts are being made in terms of the development of the environment and climate change in national as well as subnational plans.

References

Kijazi, A. L. (2019). The Contribution of the Global Framework for Climate Services Adaptation Programme in Africa (GFCS APA) in National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Process for Tanzania. doi:10.4236/acs.2019.94040

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. (n.d.). Current and future challenges and opportunities in Tanzania. Retrieved from https://um.dk/en/danida-en/strategies%20and%20priorities/country-policies/tanzania/current-and-future-challenges-and-opportunities-in-tanzania/

Ordu, E. I. (2021, April 7). Climate adaptation and the great reset for Africa. Retrieved from Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2021/04/07/climate-adaptation-and-the-great-reset-for-africa/

UNDP. (2016-2021). ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND RESILIENCE PILLAR, STRATEGY PAPER.

UNDP Annual Report 2020. (2020). Goal 13 CLIMATE ACTION. Retrieved from UNDP Organization: https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals#climate-action

United Nations. (n.d.). Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development. Retrieved from Sustainable Deevelopment Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA. (2007). NATIONAL ADAPTATION PROGRAMME OF ACTION (NAPA). Division of Environment.

USAID From the American People. (2020). Tanzania. Retrieved from climate links: https://www.climatelinks.org/countries/tanzania

Climate Change and Its Impact on Health

Tiffany Lo-Art in Tanzania Internship

Climate change has a big impact on the environment and health. Africa is projected to have an increase of surface temperatures at a faster rate than the global average (Pasquini, 2020). Temperature increases have been linked to increasing mortality and morbidity, and marginalized groups, such as those who are economically disadvantaged, appear to have higher heat-related morbidity and mortality (Pasquini, 2020). Climate change also makes extreme weather more frequent and intense, which can lead to desertification of fertile land and rising sea levels (How Climate Change Drives Humanitarian Crises, 2021). Conflict also tends to increase when a drought results in food shortages, which worsens the impact of economic crises that can result from a variety of causes, such as the COVID-19 pandemic (How Climate Change Drives Humanitarian Crises, 2021). As such, mitigating the effects of climate change is vital to improving health.

Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns also worsen the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria (How Climate Change Drives Humanitarian Crises, 2021). Currently, new diseases are emerging in regions where they previously did not exist (United Nations Climate Change, 2020). A lack of access to clean water due to drought would also lead to higher incidence of diarrhea, which is a major cause of death for children under the age of five (How Climate Change Drives Humanitarian Crises, 2021). With the destruction of ecosystems, climate change could have a great impact on the occurrence of viruses like COVID-19, which emerges from animals (How Climate Change Drives Humanitarian Crises, 2021).

Climate change also negatively impacts food security, which would worsen health (United Nations Climate Change, 2020). In drought-prone sub-Saharan Africa countries, the number of undernourished people have increased by 45.65% since 2012 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (United Nations Climate Change, 2020). As agriculture accounts for the majority of livelihoods in Africa, the impacts of drought, increased pest and disease damage as well as flooding would negatively impact livelihoods and health as a result due to decreasing food security and income (United Nations Climate Change, 2020).

Some groups are more impacted by climate change (Pasquini, 2020). Age influences sensitivity to heat, especially in groups such as the elderly and young (Pasquini, 2020). People with underlying health issues such as chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are also more sensitive to heat (Pasquini, 2020). Water quantity also impacts sensitivity to heat, as drinking enough water is important for efficient thermoregulation (Pasquini, 2020). As mentioned previously, climate change leads to drought, and without access to water, it is plausible that already vulnerable groups would become even more sensitive to the possibility of dehydration, heat-related illnesses, and potentially water-borne diseases (Pasquini, 2020).

It is of upmost importance that the negative impact of climate change is reduced in order to improve health. Africa has made great efforts in driving the global climate agenda, with over 90% of the countries ratifying the Paris Agreement, and many African countries have committed to transitioning to green energy within a short time frame (United Nations Climate Change, 2020). Climate change has a big negative impact on health, and reducing its impact through means of clean energy and reducing poverty by promoting socioeconomic growth is vital to improving health (United Nations Climate Change, 2020).

References:

Pasquini, L., van Aardenne, L., Godsmark, C. N., Lee, J., & Jack, C. (2020). Emerging climate change-related public health challenges in Africa: A case study of the heat-health vulnerability of informal settlement residents in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Science of the total environment, 747, 141355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141355

How climate change drives humanitarian crises. (2021, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.rescue.org/article/how-climate-change-drives-humanitarian-crises

United Nations Climate Change. (2020, October 27). Climate Change Is an Increasing Threat to Africa. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://unfccc.int/news/climate-change-is-an-increasing-threat-to-africa