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Key Messages

• In April 2018, floods shaved 2 to 4 percent of Dar es Salaam’s GDP

• The rural population is set to increase by 80 percent, adding pressure on natural resources

• World Bank says Tanzania’s total population is projected to reach 138 million by 2050, almost triple its current level

• Despite sustained economic growth, Tanzania’s total wealth per capita – the sum of all physical, human, and natural capital – declined between 1995 and 2014

1. Introduction

Every day is environment day, however, as a much more advanced civilization, since we began burning billions of fossil fuels daily. In 2020 alone, 11.7 billion tonnes of oil equivalent were consumed, according to British oil and gas giant BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Tanzania as one of the most natural resource-endowed nations in East Africa, faces many environmental challenges. The President of Tanzania has unequivocally noted, “Relevant authorities ought to enforce laws and citizens, for the part, should protect their environment”.

The World Bank argued that Tanzania’s total wealth per capita (human and natural) declined between 1995 and 2014, despite robust and sustained economic growth.

On the other side of the coin, the latter presents a much more threat to ordinary Tanzanians. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) pointed out that, in 2018, at least 27 million people are considered poor, lingering within the poverty rate of $1.9 per day.

In this context, saving the environment is paramount as most people still rely on the natural environment for their day-to-day survival.

On a much broader scale, environmental degradation left no stone unturned. It impacts the energy sector on a national level. A good example is the Great Ruaha river water decline scenario. During the 1990s, the river water fed Ruaha National Park before flowing into the Mtera-Kidatu hydropower system, which supplied nearly half of Tanzania’s electricity (World Bank). As a nation still dependent on hydropower installed capacity, when the river water began drying up for up to a few weeks per year, the results of sizeable unregulated water abstraction irrigation upstream. By 2019, it is normal for several months per year for no water to flow into the Great Ruaha River.

“We face significant challenges in managing our environment concerning the Great Ruaha as the Zero-flow spells increase each year” said January Makamba, former Tanzania’s Minister of State of Environment and Union Affairs.

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Further on this matter, the 2019 World Bank’s “Environmental Trends and Threats, and Pathways to Improved Sustainability analysis”, argued that the existence of competing for various demands for and open access to many of Tanzania’s natural resources are causing their degradation and limiting their ability to continue to cater for necessary goods and services.

A nation of more than 59 million people needs its environment intact. The population growth is yet another grim factor that leads Tanzania’s natural resource consumption on a terrible path.

The World Bank substantiates the latter arguing that “this decline is attributed to rapid population growth which has outpaced investment and occasioned the loss of total renewable natural capital per capita by 35 percent over the past 20 years, and of non-land renewable natural capital per capita 47 percent”.

With all the challenges laid on Tanzania, there is a silver lining dangling, thanks to modern technology and education. Multiple stakeholders from the private and civil society sectors are working tirelessly to curb the detrimental impacts of climate change and the environment as they are inextricably interlinked.

2. Tanzania’s big plan against environmental degradation

When Tanzania’s National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) fined London-based miner Acacia Mining (now Barrick Gold Corp) $2.4 million fine due to pollution it caused in the North Mara gold mine, Tanzania sent two messages—they are serious, and there’s work to do to protect nature.

For the past five years, Tanzania has seen various institutional framework changes within the mining and investment industry, ultimately bringing somewhat controversial and lucrative benefits to the national economy.

The same line of action is taken on the environment as the government plans to take hold of the environment from pollution. Tanzania has brought a Ten-Year-Strategic Environmental Conservation Plan (2022 – 2032) that stands to respond swiftly to complex and dire challenges.

According to information from The Citizen [June 06, 2022], the plan goes after settling uncontrollable livestock migration, expansion of agricultural activities, degradation of water sources and wetlands, excessive use of firewood and charcoal, and inadequate waste management.

The plan was launched on 5th June, 2022 in the nation’s capital Dodoma by Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa during the celebration of World Environment Day, which Tanzania has become attuned and concerned about for the past decade.

The mining and agriculture sectors are essential for garnering foreign currency and employing nearly half of the workforce. However, they impart a significant chunk of damage to the environment.

According to the Senior Environment Officer in the Vice President’s Office, Dr Thomas Bwana, agriculture activities have spurred by 1,200 percent in certain areas.

At the same time, mining operations which are now safe havens for most unprivileged small-scale miners, in Chunya, Mpanda and Kwimba exhibit some significant environmental degradation.

Only 35 percent of waste generated in urban areas is collected and disposed of—while the rest is unaccounted for, which ends up in water sources and scattered around ditches.

The government also highlighted the sand accumulation in water bodies and the threat it posed to aquatic biodiversity.

The government is rolling out directives for implementation, including prioritization of environment conservation during budget preparations and implementations. On the other side of the directive lies local government officers executing real-life solutions on the ground, such as the national afforestation program plating 1.5 million trees annually.

The Prime Minister addressed other crucial areas such as opting for renewable energy and absconding firewood and charcoal use, waste management and flood preventive measures to avert damages, which have shaved off the equivalent of 2 and 4 percent of Dar es Salaam’s GDP by April 2018.

Tanzania is working tirelessly to combat environmental degradation through creative, intelligent and clean technologies, and it is time for the environment to be rejuvenated.

Reference

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/07/31/opinion/fossil-fuel-burning-leaps-new- record-crushing-clean-energy-and-climate-efforts(accessed on 2nd June, 2022 14:00)

https://www.worldbank.org/en/countr y/tanzania/publication/tanzania-countr y- environmental-assessment-managing-natural-resources-more-effectively-can-get-the-countrys-rivers-flowing-again (Accessed on 6th June, 2022 14:00)

 

It is a non-for-profit, member-based - of over 80 diverse organizations across Tanzania committed to work on climate change issues in Tanzania and beyond.

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