- Published on Saturday, 31 December 2011 18:49
- Written by HASINA MJINGO
- Hits: 15848
THE lack of climate change policy in the country has left us a great sense of urgency generated through the media and scientific reports. Climate Change is now widely recognized as everyone’s business. It has become more than an environmental issue and all people and sectors are affected.
Avelina Elias is farmer in Rombo, Kilimanjaro. She grows bananas, beans and coffee. Avelina feels that climate change has directly impacted the productivity of her coffee farming. She feels there have been changing rainfall patterns, and more intensive sun, both of which are unfavourable for growing coffee.
These changes have led to an increase in coffee diseases affecting production of the crop. Avelina also speaks about the difficulties she has faced in the past few years in getting enough grass for her livestock due to the lack of rains.
“For example, this year I measured the height of the grass and I could see that it is significantly shorter than would normally be if it had rained as is expected. The result is that I have to travel longer distances to get grass and fodder to feed her livestock,” she explains.
Having experienced such impacts, Avelina is now trying out new resistant coffee seeds, which are being supplied through development projects funded by HIVOs. The new seeds are being grown and distributed in Rombo district to help counter the effects of climate change on coffee production.
Avelina would like to see the government more involved in facilitating farmers to get access to such seeds. She feels that relying on project aid is not sustainable or dependable enough, and instead the national government should acknowledge the importance of agriculture, and specifically support small-scale farmers, like those in coffee production in Rombo.
Endeko from Mwangombelo in Manyara is a hunter and gatherer from the Hadzabe ethnic group. He and his family are dependent on hunting and gathering fruits, plants and tubers for their livelihoods. He uses fruits and roots for medicinal purposes and wild animals for food.
He has seen firsthand the impacts of environmental changes. In the 1980s, when he was a boy, he would go to the nearby hilltops and see many animals, such as elephants walking freely. But now, he has to walk several kilometres to see any animal. He has also seen forests beginning to disappear as well as temperature changes. Because trees are disappearing, the number of animals has declined and there are less fruits and flowers and bees, which is impacting the production of honey.
Deforestation has also affected traditional medicine. In addition, the levels and patterns of rains have also changed. Hunter gatherers are being forced to move and follow where the animals and fruits can be found, but this has led to land conflicts. These changes impact the traditional way of life, and Endeko is particularly concerned about the cultural effects these changes may bring. “The government is using the wrong interventions to counter the effects of climate change in the hunter gatherer community,” he complains.
Endeko’s biggest concern is that if climate change is not addressed, and misguided interventions continue, this group will become completely wiped out. Enforcing a different way of life – farming or livestock keeping – is changing who they are and their culture. The government should look to provide protection in the form of title deeds to ensure that conflicts caused by land conflicts are reduced. The community’s rights and livelihoods should be respected and supported, especially with a changing climate.
Just recently at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17), the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, urged United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to deliver a mechanism which will help agriculture to get finance to make a transformation that is needed to fight against climate change.
"The UNFCCC needs to fully incorporate agriculture in its agreement and deliver mechanism that will ensure that Tanzania and Africa's farmers can deliver food security," he stated. He added that Tanzania needs a new policy and support mechanism for farmers to adapt and help mitigation.
"Tanzania and other Sub-Sahara African countries are late. As governments put in place the policy environment needed, this conference should move from talking shop to deliver the resources that poor farmers need to up their lives on course."
Ernest Kaijage, a programme manager for Clinton Climate Initiative says a policy will help to take action on addressing climate change. “It will help give directive measures towards climate change adaptation, people will respect the laws and donors will be more comfortable to funds projects to implement policies.”
Tanzania has 8 national policies and laws that are relevant to climate change with additional regulation, by-laws and other statutory instrument extending down to the local level but it is not enough. Climate change is here to stay; there is an urgent need to tackle it before it's too late. State Minister in the Vice-President’s Office (Environment) Terezya Huvisa, says that a call has been made for law makers to come up with relevant legislation which will address climate challenges. “We are in the last stages of completing the policy, so anytime soon we should be able to have it,” she adds.