WHILE concerns about climate change are being actively addressed through different ways including pushing for enforcement of conventions and international protocols, Zanzibar is recording success with its people gradually helping stop damaging the environment.
Promoting renewable energy has been among initiatives being used here, in responding to effects of climate change linked to human destruction of environment including deforestation, a threat to the few forests on the Islands.
Deforestation to clear for increasing construction of buildings in tourism areas, increasing populations putting pressure for settlement and wood for cooking, are some of the major problems which make Zanzibar vulnerable place with increasing temperatures, rising sea level, salinization of fresh water and floods.
According to scientists, climate change is a change in the pattern of weather and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, leading to negative impact on the human life including disasters and that the way to survive is for human being to control its activities on earth.
In addition to enforcement of environment laws, public and private institutions here are working to ensure that the message ‘use renewable energy to save the country’ reach all adults including leaders.
Following ongoing intensive education/awareness campaign which started last year, the assessment shows that more and more households in the rural areas are now installing solar to get electricity, at least for lighting the house and charging mobile phones, which almost every home owns.
This is regarded as a success story for ‘Promoting Innovation in Renewable Energy’ project which started last year in rural areas of North A and North B districts, where deforestation has been reported to be high.
‘Mini Economic Solar and Plant (MiESP) project is being implemented by the ‘Renewable Energy Zanzibar Association (REZA)’ with technical support from ‘Zanzibar Utilities Regulatory Authority- ZURA; and the ‘State University of Zanzibar- SUZA.’ ZURA is an autonomous multi-sectoral regulator established under Act No. 7/2013 of the Laws of Zanzibar and it is responsible for technical and economic regulation of electricity, petroleum and water sectors.
Its functions include among others, licencing, tariff review, monitoring performance and standards with regards to quality, safety, health and environment. ZURA is also responsible for promoting private sector participation, effective competition and economic efficiency in public utilities.
According to REZA Executive Secretary Mr Ramadhan Said Omar named ‘Urbis Foundation’ as the main funder of the project aiming at changing the mindset of local people and leaders on ‘sustainable renewable Energy.’
“We are training community leaders (Shehas) and people about innovation, creativeness and entrepreneurship in using renewable energy, beginning with solar power,” Omar says he thanked’ Zanzibar Bureau of Standard-ZBS for setting up required standards.
Basing on five ‘Sustainable development goals: No 1, 4, 7, 8, 11 and 13 respectively, he said, the training and encouraging people in rural areas to switch to ‘solar power,’ instead continuing relying on trees and burning kerosene, ruining environment.
He said renewable energy has direct or indirect link to the goals: ‘No Poverty’, ‘Quality education’, ‘affordable and clean energy,’ ‘Decent work and economic growth,’ ‘Sustainable cities and communities’ and ‘Climate Action.’
Mr Omar said so far REZA has trained 162 community leaders and other stakeholders since last year in the targeted areas of North A and North B districts where people are now sidelining use of traditional energy (cutting down trees for energy) and turning to solar.
“We need to stop cutting down trees to protect the environment. We have enough sun to produce solar power. We start by installing solar before in the future investing in wind and Biogas,’ Mr Omar said.
He said REZA has been working in areas most affected by deforestation with the aim of restoring green landscape by discouraging cutting down of trees and Promoting Innovation in the Renewable Energy sector.
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from natural processes that are continuously replenished, which includes sunlight, geothermal heat, wind, tides, water and various forms of biomass.
This energy cannot be exhausted and is constantly renewed. REZA says the cost of installing solar has been low because the government wants many households in the rural to have solar power, “for example the total cost for installation for three lamps and being able to charge mobile phone, is about 360,000/= but house holed are charged 185,000/=.”
Mr Mussa Makame Mussa community leader for Kibeni village and Mr Juma Nyange Omar shehia of Bwereu village are among participants of the training on renewable energy, saying the knowledge was important in protecting environment.
“Alternative Energy Sources are important now in protecting environment already in danger due to unplanned land use,” Mr Mussa said adding that despite high cost in renewable energy, he would continue encourage people to use solar.
Nyange also said that while cost for solar equipment and connections should be low so that more people can connect education on renewable Energy should continue so that people understand the energy development.
He said that education will definitely assist communities in making informed decisions about renewable energy, and that innovation is essential to improving access to renewable energy.
He said that as knowledge about renewable energy expands, more people are exploring the possibility of going solar, “But there is a need for installation costs to further be reduced to motivate people.”
Minister for Land, Housing, Water, and Energy Ms Salama Aboud Talib has also announced that ‘renewable energy and energy efficiency’ are among the priority programmes in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
She said her ministry with support from private sector and development partners is working to promote renewable energy with aim of self sufficiency in power supply and protection of environment.
According to 2014 survey, Zanzibar with more than 644, 632, 311 trees, which clove trees, and mangroves covering about 16,480 hectares, and natural vegetation measuring over 86,182 hectares has been cleared
.Forests officers and environmentalists estimate that 950 hectares of trees/natural vegetation, on average, is cleared annually in Zanzibar for different purposes including clearing land investment in tourism projects.
All kinds of trees are affected by cutting down for timber, fuel, and charcoal, and clearing land for settlement, without considering impacts on the environment and development programmes such as beekeeping.
According to the ‘department of Forests and Nonrenewable Natural resources’ more than 80 per cent of the Households still use trees for fuel (firewood, and charcoal) posing a big threat to the trees, while only few use electricity power, gas, and petroleum.
REZA’s Executive Secretary Mr Omar argues that “If we invest in solar power and train electricians, villages will rapidly have permanent lighting and cutting down of trees will definitely be minimised.”
REZA has been promoting sustainable development of Renewable Energy through advancing knowledge and skills using better experiences.
Other objectives of the association is to manage knowledge and publicise information; facilitate market development of Renewable Energy technologies, applications and services; and support the creation of an enabling environment and framework for a sustainable Renewable Energy market.