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Worry as climate change threatens human survival

ECONOMIC development through industrialisation goes hand in hand with good land governance and usage, especially in these trying times when climate change is a major threat to the environment.

Last week, Ardhi University (ARU) brought under one roof its alumni since its establishment to discuss climate change in relation to land governance matters as the country strives to become a middle income nation by 2025 through industrialisation. 

ARU’s convocation, whose theme was ‘Climate change and land governance’, was chaired by its outgoing President Haruna Masebu, and dwelt on matters pertaining to land, climatic change adaptation, mitigation and resilience methods. 

Chairing the gathering, Masebu said it was high time to prioritize climate change adaptation and mitigation measures as it wasn’t a matter laid for discussion although it is already happening with remarkable consequences to people’s survival. 

“Sea levels have risen up to six metres; reports are showing that some islands will sink and be swallowed by water in the very near future. In Tanzania Mainland, for example, the northern regions of Kilimanjaro and Arusha are experiencing increased temperatures than they used to be; and don’t forget that Mount Kilimanjaro’s glacier is melting at a shocking rate,” he told the academicians. 

On the health field, Masebu said that various diseases like cholera, fungus and malaria will continue infecting more people. Therefore, he said, there was the unique importance of the presence of a university like ARU that does not only bring key players at a round table for brainstorming, but also specializes in land management, training and research for sustainable development. 

Professor Wilbard Kombe from the Department of Human Settlement Studies said that the importance of addressing climate change adaptation, mitigation measures in connection with poverty alleviation for sustainable development is not to be disregarded. He said cimate change affects developing countries like Tanzania where the poor are hit the most. 

Developed countries like the United States and Japan are hit by floods and hurricane from time to time but their level of resilience is higher to the extent that they never seek for external aid to restore lost property and damaged infrastructure like it is the case for poor countries, he added. 

He explained that climate change has direct implication to the economy as it destroys important means of production like farms, roads, bridges, residential as well as commercial houses, thus the social well-being of the people being troubled. 

“Climate change effects take a center stage in causing abnormal rainfalls that do not follow normal patterns. They sometimes come at minimum level or too much in a short period of time that destroy lives above the ground and therefore land governance expertise was of unique importance for sustainable development,” he noted. 

He also said that excessive temperatures may have negative consequences to a given economy--their impact to agriculture affecting farm-to-market/industry value chains. 

On human settlement in East African countries, climatic change effects are felt mostly by dwellers of coastal areas where mostly the settlements are unplanned and prone to heavy floods, affecting drainage systems and contaminating water meant for domestic use. 

Road are destroyed by floods while sea level rising swallows dry land like the case at Ocean Road in Dar es Salaam where extra money is invested to protect dry land. ARU is the country’s main university that conducts research and produces qualified personnel to designate and promote land management towards anticipated economic growth through industrialization and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. 

The increased number of land management professional will ease land use planning, environmental conservation as ARU offers training in spectrum of land-based disciplines namely; Real Estate, Land Administration, Land Surveying Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, Building Economics, Environmental Science and Housing under one roof. Complemented by Engineering, Finance, Accounting, Economics and Community Development Programmes. 

Masebu says that even though this is the only university dealing directly with land management matters within East Africa. It still collaborates with other institutions in the country and abroad aiming at knowledge and expertise sharing. 

Climate change effects affect both men and women while sustainable development has no gender. To realize this, the university does not only admit female students but it has also seen a number of female students scoop best prizes for the past academic year. Fifty-two out 98 outstanding winners of different prizes for academic performance were female students. 

According to Masebu, study opportunities at ARU are of stiff competition due to its incomparable specialty in land management courses. 

“The university receives more than 1,000 applications in some courses that some are meant to accommodate only 280 students, therefore the best cream wins selection,” he said. 

ARU Vice-Chancellor Prof Evaristo Riwa said that the university is reviewing its curricula to match with the economic, social and technical advances to meet the market demand. He said his university is finalizing development of its master plan which will be soon completed. 

Some other national projects in which ARU participates include conducting valuation of the ongoing Standard Gauge Railway project. After realizing that flooding is a main characteristic of climate change, ARU has acquired innovative technologies for rapidly surveying, mapping and communicating water-borne hazards. 

The university is also carrying out research on adoption and application of cost-effective housing technology for districts and primary court buildings. The university has also carried out research on governance and planning of resilient cities in East Africa. According to Prof Riwa, ARU has a Tide Gauge Station located in Tanga Region that monitors change on oceanic behaviours and climate change monitoring facility. 

Sustainable Land management (SLM) is an important strategy for combating climate change with the potential to also help reduce poverty and the loss of biodiversity. Improve the management of water resources, increase food security and alleviate hunger,” says the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. 

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Author: JAMES KAMALA

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