Kiteto District residents had a tradition of planting crops on December 26 believing that if they do so exactly on that day, then the prediction of a bumper harvest is assured.
But recently things have changed; it has become an epicentre of what is happening concerning climate change.
Kiteto was known to be a beautiful grassland superb for pastoralists, with fertile soil that was just perfect for farming.
The trend and the predictability is no longer working, as of last year, seeds died in the ground, and two years ago a man with 200 cattle, is now left with 64, according to the Minister of State in the Vice- President’s Office (Union and Environment), January Makamba.
Unlike rural areas, when living in the urban zones it’s easy to see poverty creeping in front of you because of climate change and global warming.
Tanzania’s economy to a large extent relies on climate as over 70 percent of its citizens depend on agriculture.
The country is massively endowed with natural resources; however, as its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increases, renewable natural resources per capita are shown to be in the decrease.
Activities such as over harvesting, land degradation and unsustainable use of renewable natural resources, seem to increase the damage.
The disappearance of some 8,770 square kilometres of forests annually, reveals an alarming trend that if left to continue, it is estimated that by 2075 there will be no forests in Tanzania.
Mr Makamba called for environmental activism to bring public awareness as he noted the rise in global warming and the impact it brings to Tanzania.
“All is not lost as we have not reached the tipping point and we need to build a movement with citizens, development partners, private sector, academia and civil societies to speak in one voice and come up with interventions,” he affirmed.
In 2018, however, three important advances took place to increase Tanzania’s credibility to result-based climate actions at larger scale: Tanzanian Parliament ratified, as the 176th country, the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015; a new forest policy was prepared and submitted for political approval process; and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) approved the Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL) for Tanzania.
The research work to propose the FREL (the baseline for the national forest carbon balance and the first step to Nationally Determined Contributions) was done by the Norwegian supported National Carbon Monitoring Centre, based on the results of the FAO/Finland supported National Forest Resources Assessment (NAFORMA).
Mr Makamba said unsustainable development and the climate change that has been felt mainly in exceptional rain and drought patterns and unpredictability of the start of the seasonal rains is due to knowledge gap and helplessness.
He said that climate change has vast components, but when it comes to Tanzania, it entails temperature and rain as physical realities that citizen’s witness, although these things are not communicated properly and that is why they lose their sense of urgency.
“Climate is extremely important to Tanzania, as most of the activities depend on the reliability of natural resources which is climate sensitive and impacts brought by climate change are a very serious threat to the prosperity of the nation,” he said.
Adding; “I crave for environmental and climate change activists to raise awareness of the enormous impacts caused by global warming and how to reduce it.”
The minister said that the picture is bleaker than people think, saying communities living in rural areas get to face the reality first hand as things do not grow as they used to.
He commended the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland for dedicating and entailing climate change in the Nordic week for three years, which illustrates how important it is.
On his part, the Ambassador of Finland to Tanzania, Mr Pekka Hukka said that because climate change is the most urgent challenge and is still on the rise, forestry is a great opportunity for Tanzanians to solve the problem and gain economically as well.
He said that the continent’s population is set to double by 2050 and reach 2.4 billion, saying the situation in Tanzania follows the same trend, where fast growing population need jobs, energy, land for farming and wood for cooking, claiming that there will be a significant pressure and demand on use of natural resources including forests.
The continent’s population is set to double by 2050 and reach 2.4 billion. Situation in Tanzania follows the same trend.
Fast growing population needs jobs, energy, land for farming and they need wood for cooking.
There will be a significant pressure and demand on use of natural resources including forests.
“It is clear that sustainable forest management is a crucial element for implementing the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting warming to 1.5 Celsius. Forests are the world’s largest carbon sinks and deforestation is the second largest human-caused source of carbon emissions,” he said, warning that If deforestation continues at the current rate in Tanzania, there may be very little natural forests left for the future generations.
With an area of 950,000 km2 Tanzania is a big country and one of the few countries in the world where a massive tree planting is viable due to its climate and other reasons including considerable recent experience in tree plantations.
In the past 15 years some 130,000 km2 of land has been deforested and it would be relative easy to reforest these areas as their soils are not yet badly degraded.
It is important that we understand the value of forests properly to create an incentive to manage, protect and use forests in a sustainable manner.
Forests provide numerous environmental and economic benefits for Tanzania and its population.
Forests are much more than just carbon sinks. They are essential for biodiversity; they prevent land erosion and help maintain water resources.
Forests can also be a significant resource for prosperity and livelihoods. Tanzania is making progress with forestry related value chains with opportunities for jobs, skills development and access to markets.
“We should look at ways of making the value chains more inclusive so that they provide opportunities to the youth, rural women and other marginalized groups,” commented the ambassador.
Through reforestation Tanzania could make a huge contribution to combat global warming and receive at the same time multiple benefits for its rural industrialisation and job creation.
He pointed out that through reforestation, Tanzania could achieve multiple benefits for its growing population with forest-related industries, tourism, job creation and improved environmental services.
Such poverty-reducing development, he said, will be a win-win situation as Tanzania could make a significant contribution to combat global warming.
If we can protect natural forests and plant new forests and at the same time offer people good jobs and better services, then we are onto something big.
It is possible elsewhere; it must be possible also in Tanzania.