We ought to assess environmental challenges in Tanzania

26Dec 2017
The Guardian
We ought to assess environmental challenges in Tanzania

A majority of Tanzanians live off the land - what grows from its soil, and the species that roam it. But these resources are scarce. Today, a host of problems are hindering environmentally sustainable development in the country, whether on land or at sea.

They rely on wood and agricultural residues for their energy needs, causing deforestation and environmental degradation. The problem, of course, doesn’t stop there. Deforested areas no longer provide a home for wildlife - leading to biodiversity loss - also susceptible to soil erosion.

For a little over four decades, the status of Dodoma being Tanzania's capital city has largely been fictitious, because Dar es Salaam has all along stolen the show as the country's nerve-centre.

Cynics seeking a middle ground came up with the proposition of Dar es Salaam being the commercial metropolis and Dodoma being the political capital, on account of hosting the Legislature, one of the three pillars of state - the others being the Executive and the Judiciary.

Traditionally, the relatively sleepy Dodoma literally woke up and was set into a high gear of life during Parliamentary sessions, and high-level meetings of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

All that is now set to change, in the wake of the firm commitment by President Magufuli, to turn Dodoma into the government base for real, rather than in the soft context of hosting a few public service centres.

The reception by Dodoma residents to the dramatic turn of events - under which the fifth phase head of state would eclipse his four predecessors - Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi,   Benjamin Mkapa and Dr Jakaya Kikwete - is mixed. Some see it as a blessing, while for others, it is a sad story, even an outright tragedy.

 Major environmental crisis in Tanzania includes land degradation, pollution management and urbanization, agricultural and range land resource management, management of forest resources, management of wildlife resources, management of mineral resources, excessive voice and hazardous wastes.Human impacts on deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing, and degradation of water resources and loss of biodiversity have all resulted into land degradation. Poor agricultural practices such as shifting cultivation, lack of crop rotation practices, lack of agricultural technology and land husbandry techniques exacerbate the problem.


In the same vein, we commend residents of Wilunze Village, Chamwino District in Dodoma Region who have adopted new technologies to help conserve the environment as well as increase agricultural production, thanks to the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) programme.

Over 100 households that live below the hills are now not worried as the November rainy season is now here as they have dug some five 200-metre long 'Fanya chini' terraces that divert water from up the hill.

A 'fanya chini' terrace is a structure whereby soil is put on the lower side of the contour trench, as opposed to the upslope and are used to conserve soil and divert water.

Indeed   villagers are no longer worried by the rainy seasons.

 Since the inauguration of the programme in the village, villagers had undertaken two major projects, one being on the road and the ‘fanya chini’ terraces.

Some 67 TASAF beneficiaries are engaged in the activity that is deemed to save hundreds of villagers.

 Apart from the terrace, the villagers now have as well adopted use of semi-circular bunds that are generally applied to sloping fields in order to reduce water runoff and erosion.

Due to their half-moon design, semi-circular bunds are well suited for planting individual trees as well as crops.

We are told that each bund has to be made singularly by hand, making them much more time consuming in their implementation. As a plus factor, the semi-circular bunds can also be applied on steeper fields. In a similar manner to planting pits, semi-circular bunds are usually filled with organic matter to add nutrients for improved crop yield.

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