Tanzania, a beautiful East African country, is facing serious climate change challenges. Climate change impacts not only the natural environment but the people living in the country. It has negative social and economic effects. Every country faces different challenges, courtesy of climate change. For third-world countries, these effects can be devastating.
In Tanzania higher temperatures are being experienced. Both flooding and droughts plagued the country, threatening agricultural production. Rising sea levels are destroying the livelihoods of communities living along the coast.
Climate change vulnerabilities are being constantly researched and investigated throughout the country. An area currently under scrutiny is the management of the Rufiji River Basin. Situated approximately 200 kms south of Dar es Salaam, it contains the largest mangrove forest in eastern Africa.
What should the world take note of in order to start helping this gorgeous piece of land?
Climate Change and Water Scarcity
With increasing climate variability, water access is a problem for many people living in the Rufiji basins. Farmers who have lived in the area for years report a decrease in water flow. Irrigation of crops and water supply for cattle is drying up and the steady increase in population numbers is putting more strain on the available water.
The Rufiji Basin is synonymous with the production of rice and maize. While the potential is high for agricultural production, climate change is having dire consequences on this production. Luckily, projects are being set up to try negate these consequences and find solutions.
The Rufiji basin together with the Wami-Ruvu basin is the major source of water for over 7 million people. These include the communities living in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Dodoma. Safe and clean water supply is a challenge for these communities and it continues to exacerbate the vulnerability of these people.
Vulnerability mapping is an enhanced form of mapping using spatial data in a GIS system. Climate vulnerability can be better understood using this method. By targeting vulnerable communities, resilience building interventions can be introduced to these areas.
Source of Energy Through Hydropower
Tanzania relies heavily on hydropower for electricity supply. Discussions are being held around developing the Rufiji hydropower project. This would entail building a 130-meter high dam on the river with a 914 square km reservoir. Such a project will add to the existing problems of the Rufiji basin already severely impacted by climate change.
Food Security Threats
Increasing temperatures, more flooding and longer periods of droughts threaten the country’s food security. With over 75% of the country’s population employed in the agricultural sector, its imperative food security is protected. Otherwise the country will face increasing poverty and hunger among its population.
As climate change in Tanzania takes a grip on the production of food, solutions need to be found. Private sector engagement is being encouraged to ensure long-term sustainability. Projects are in play and the government is working together with local stakeholders to find ways of introducing sustainable agriculture practices.
If the effects of climate change in Tanzania are not dealt with, the country will face an assortment of negative long-term consequences.
Also, while a global challenge, climate change is the responsibility of every country, whether first-world or third-world. By engaging with both local and global organizations, climate change can be tackled, one step at a time.