Pemba constructs seawall to protect historical tourists’ site

PLANS are underway for the Zanzibar government to construct a seawall of about 500 metres to protect ‘Mkumbuu City ruins’ from being washed away by rising sea levels.

The city is believed to have existed in the 11th century and it is one of the key tourists’ attraction sites in Pemba Islands.

Some of the areas have been washed by the sea such as areas built in the 1st and 9th centuries, while other areas in Pemba and Unguja Islands are being threatened by rising ocean levels, resulting in shrinking land area for farming, resident, and salinization of freshwater for domestic use.

Mr Khamis Ali Juma, coordinator for Department of Museums and Antiquities in Pemba, said various strategies are being taken by his office under the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, to ensure that the area of Mkumbuu is protected from sea water invasions.

“We have planned to construct a barrier measuring about five hundred metres to protect the historical site of Mkumbuu, along with rehabilitating other historic sites in Pemba Islands. The budget for the project is about 2.4bn/-,” Mr Juma said, adding that the erosion and sea rise is due to the impact of climate change.

He said currently the 11th century Mosque is on the verge of disappearing, if adoption measures are not taken in time and that some historic sites are already under seawater or washed away after delays in taking adaption measures.

The coordinator emphasized that the Ministry understands risks of losing all historical sites close to the beaches and that strategies will be taken to protect the areas as they are important in attracting tourists, Zanzibar’s leading source of income.

On his part, Mr Khalid Kombo Khamis, a senior officer from the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage said the effects of climate change continue to threaten some of the important historical sites in the country, including the Mkumbuu in Pemba.

According to the Director General (DG) of the Zanzibar Environment Management Authority (ZEMA), Mr Sheha Mjaja Juma, people living close to coastal areas and experts from his office should work together with support from the government and development partners to plan and implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures to protect Zanzibar land from effects of rising sea.

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