Mitigating the Impacts of Climate Change: A Tanzanian Perspective
In a recent workshop for the Dar es Salaam Regional Disaster Management Committee, Jenista Mhagama, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament, and Coordination), emphasized the necessity of collective efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, particularly the El Nino phenomenon. She highlighted that disaster management is a shared responsibility that obliges everyone to take preventative and preparatory actions within their capacities to safeguard lives, property, and the environment.
Mhagama encouraged the committee members to be proactive in implementing necessary measures within their sectors to prevent the escalation of damage. She expressed her expectation that the workshop would lead to an increased use of preventative measures at all regional council levels.
The workshop was targeted at reviewing the implementation of a plan that was initiated in July of this year. The plan was put into effect following a warning from the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) about the likelihood of above-normal rainfall due to El Nino conditions. The TMA forecasted that the rains would commence in the fourth week of September through the first week of October in the Kagera Region and spread to other areas in the second week of October.
Mhagama further explained that the October rains typically affect the northeastern highlands, the northern coast, the Coast Region, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, the Unguja and Pemba Islands, the Lake Victoria Basin, and the northern part of the Kigoma Region.
Addressing Climate Change: President’s Call to Action
Amid these challenges, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan joined other African leaders, development partners, business leaders, and activists in calling for action against climate change, an existential threat for people worldwide. She proposed establishing an Africa specific fund to address the climate crisis on the continent.
In Tanzania, climate change is causing higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe droughts and floods. This leads to increased food insecurity. The country, a major food producer employing over 75% of the workforce in the agriculture sector, and a top tourism destination, is highly vulnerable to changes in climate.
Findings from a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 questionnaire revealed that only one-third of Tanzanians say they have heard of climate change. Among those who are aware of climate change, a majority believe it is making life worse in their country. Most think the government is doing a good job of trying to limit climate change, but they see addressing this threat as a collective responsibility and overwhelmingly call for greater engagement on the issue by business and industry, developed nations, and ordinary citizens as well as the government.
Adapting to Climate Change: A Government Initiative
One of the Tanzanian government’s primary projects to mitigate these impacts is the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridors of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The government collaborates with national and transnational companies to intensify irrigated crop production in this area, spanning the country’s largest river basin, the Rufiji. The government’s core strategies to help smallholders increase crop yield, adapt to climate change, and alleviate poverty through the corridor are irrigation, drought-tolerant seeds, and employment. However, more research is needed to assess the achievement of these goals.
As climate change continues to threaten countries around the world, Tanzania provides an example of how national initiatives and collective efforts can help mitigate its impacts and adapt to a changing environment. However, more action is needed at all levels, from individual citizens to global organizations, to effectively address this existential threat.
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