Plastic bags ban vital in environmental protection

SOME researchers say there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in 50 years to come unless something is done.


TANZANIA will be subjected to danger with some species likely to disappear, if the environment is not well protected. The threat demands that all leaders should work tirelessly to ensure environmental protection, in collaboration with the community they should also put in place measures to protect human activities from destroying the environment.

Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan issued a stern warning on toxin sludge seeped into the rivers from mines, saying the government will equally institute legal action against factories failing to control the poisonous substances.

“Total disregard of the environment is likely to endanger the lives of the next generation, we need to provide massive education to our communities for everybody to participate towards the building of environmental conscious economy,” the VP said recently in Butiama village, home of the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere during the commemoration of the World Environmental Day marked this year nationally at Mwalimu’s residence.

The choice of the venue which aimed at borrowing a leaf and philosophy of Mwalimu Nyerere was commemorated amid United States of America’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming.

US President Donald Trump announced recently that the Paris Agreement was a pernicious threat to America’s economy and sovereignty. The Paris Agreement involves nearly 200 nations to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change.

According to the Minister of State in the Vice-President’s office, Union Affairs and Environment, January Makamba, Mwalimu Nyerere led by example on environmental issues, citing the establishment of his own forest in his Butiama village, saying that all Tanzanians should emulate the fallen hero in environmental protection.

Speaking in Butiama recently, the National Environmental Trust Fund (NETFB) chairman, Ali Mufuruki said NETFB aims at collecting at least 200bn/- a year to fund a wide range of ambitious environmental conservation programmes and projects, and described environmental conservation as a national task that needs sustainable financial arrangements and flows.

“We anticipate kicking off with at least 200bn/- annual funding that will be allocated in strategic programmes whose successes will largely contribute in sustainable conservation of our valuable environment and natural resources,” said Mr Mufuruki.

Areas that the fund will benefit include forest researches, scholarly publication on forests and conservation topics, scholarship for present and future environmental scientists and national committees on environment, among others.

Heavy investment in environmental researches and conservation programmes were a paramount importance with the fund targeting to ensure higher learning institutions play the key role in the agenda.

Environmental pollution by industries was one of the main topics at the two-day national forum on environment, with almost all speakers citing human activities and individual recklessness as the factors behind alarming environmental pollution.

A retired Director with the Forest and Bees, Dr Felician Kilahama says conservation was neglected. “We had the conservation wardens who were tasked to guard the forests, but the cadre was gradually phased out.

It will be appreciated if this important cadre is reinstated and funded to execute its duties,” noted Dr Kilahama. Tanzania is now gearing up to pass a law to ban plastic bags because the country has a deadly addiction to the material with disastrous consequences.

Plastic bags cause havoc and block drainage systems which cause flooding, leading to outbreak of water-borne diseases, including typhoid and cholera. Plastic bags also trigger traffic chaos and accidents when it rains across Dar es Salaam and the rest of the country, as drainage systems are blocked and filthy water cascades across potholed roads.

They basically contribute to environmental degradation and pollution, block sewage pipes, kill sea life and destroy eco-systems; also plastic bags found in the ocean can even get into the food-chain.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy which organized Nordic Week recently in Dar es Salaam and co-organized with Femina HIP and local government authorities in Tandale, Dar es Salaam teamed up with partners including Nipe Fagio, Africraft and Little Sun to highlight the problem of plastic bags.

Nordic Week celebrated the close cooperation between the Nordic countries and their longstanding partnership with Tanzania.

The Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania, Hanne-Marie Kaarstad, who was the guest of honor at Waste Management and Recycling from Trash-toCash at Tandale Youth Centre, commended the government’s decision to ban plastic bags, adding that the move is a solution to the heavily polluted environment which the Norwegian government is dealing with in the country.

“We are delighted that Tandale Youth Centre has pledged to regularly cleanup rubbish in their locality and show others the way forward for a clean and pleasant city for all to enjoy,” Ms Kaarstad insisted.

“As we can all see, every day plastic bags are everywhere and create environmental problem in many ways, they are not nice to look at, a plastic bag is a material that doesn’t rot or disappear, so it stays around for a long time if it is not removed,” says Ms Kaarstad. She says that in the sea, plastic is also becoming a big problem.

“We can’t see it because it is under the water, but the amount of plastic in the sea is enormous. Some researchers say there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in 50 years to come unless we do something about it” the Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania noted.

According to her, the good thing about plastic waste is that it can be used for good things if it is recycled, but noted that the best way to stop plastic waste problems is to stop using plastic bags, and instead she urged the public in general to use fabric shopping bags.

Fema magazine has launched an environment campaign on waste management, recycling and the plastic bags ban, and will be distributing their magazines and talking about what they are doing to galvanize children to be more aware of their environment and contribute to waste management.

“We have been engaging schools, through Fema magazine and our TV and radio shows to get involved in community clean-ups and share information with their families about why this is important,” said presenter of Ruka Juu and spokesperson for Femina HIP, Amabilis Batamula.

Reports shows that 5 trillion kilograms of plastic bags are produced worldwide every year, but only 2 per cent are recycled. In Tanzania, the vast pollution from plastic is a serious problem to tackle.

Most of the beautiful beaches by the Indian Ocean are left dirty, which might have a negative effect on tourism. The Tandale event falls in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals, goal 6- clean water and sanitation, goal 7- affordable and clean energy, goal 12- responsible consumption and production, goal 13- Climate action, goal 14- life below water and goal 15- life on land environment.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary celebrations, the University of Dodoma (UDOM) celebrated the event through environmental cleanliness at Mirembe Mental Health Hospital, where the Vice- Chancellor, Prof Idrissa Kikula said environmental conservation is the higher learning institution’s priority in its corporate social responsibility.

“It’s our right time to remind the public by actions about the successes which UDOM has already attained in its 10 years, we have today started to demonstrate physically on how to take care of our natural surroundings by doing general cleanliness,” Prof Kikula said recently in Dodoma during the environmental cleaning campaign.

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