Tanzania unveils El Niño Contingency Plan

DODOMA: THE government has unveiled its National El Niño Contingency Plan and Anticipatory Action for Tanzania Mainland, seeking to mitigate the most direct and immediate impacts of the anticipated rains forecasted between October and December 2023.

The nine-month plan (September 2023 to June 2024) was handed over for implementation to ministers yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), Dr Dotto Biteko, during a meeting in Dodoma where the ministers discussed how it will be implemented.

Speaking after handing over the plan to the ministers, Dr Biteko said in the plan, the government had considered several key priority areas in disaster management by considering collective responsibility which include coordination, precaution communications and assessment, emergency shelters and camps management.

Others according to him are nutrition and food security, emergency medical services, water and sanitation, defence and security, emergency rescue measures, transport, communication and energy as well as massive awareness campaigns.

In August 2023, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) forecasted that most parts of the country are set to receive above normal to normal rains during the seasonal rains which are expected to be influenced by El-Nino conditions between October and December 2023.

The season, according to TMA, is specifically for areas that receive rains twice a year, which includes regions in Northeastern Highlands and few areas of the Eastern part of Lake Victoria basin. The regions are Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, southern part of Simiyu, northern part of Kigoma, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Coast (including Mafia Island), northern part of Morogoro regions together with the isles of Unguja and Pemba.

However, international climate agencies forecast a moderate to strong El Niño continuing into 2024. This will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and climate hazards, ranging from drought to floods and storms.

On Friday, the DPM said such early warnings clearly call for early action and that it was a reason why the government came with its disaster preparedness plan. “Experience shows that taking early measures to mitigate possible damages has been costing a little money instead of waiting just to take action immediately after occurrence of disasters,’’ said Dr Biteko.

In taking precautionary measures, the DPM directed all sectoral ministries to prepare resources for averting and dealing with disasters whenever they occur, identifying all dangerous areas that show disaster indicators as well as putting up plans for prevention and dealing with disasters when they occur.

“People should be educated and advised to vacate all the dangerous areas to relocate economic and social activities in safe places, as well as have awareness programmes on the importance of keeping food reserves and cultivating crops that can survive in heavy rains,’’ he said.

Dr Biteko also directed ministers to prepare and implement a plan to avert epidemic diseases and that communications, water and energy sectors should put up plans that will ensure that any outages in those sectors are immediately addressed.

Prior to beginning of the meeting, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), Jenister Mhagama said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) started implementing measures for mitigating all possible damages in July 2023 when the early report on the possibility of El Nino rains was released by TMA.

So far, she noted, the PMO had coordinated and implemented several measures, including presenting reports to ministries and regions likely to be affected by the rains so that they can assess all areas that have dangerous indicators and prepare a plan on how they can mitigate damages as well as putting up measures to deal with disasters.

“On August 22, 2023, the PMO in collaboration with TMA convened a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the El-Nino forecast and its potential effects on various sectors as well as coming up with measures on how to mitigate its effects,’’ said Ms Mhagama.

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