Much of the changes to Tanzania’s climate are on rainfall and temperature. Rainfall on the southwestern highlands of Tanzania is decreasing and projected to further decrease in average amounts, while on the northeastern highlands and around the Lake Victoria basin a slight increase in rainfall is being witnessed . Increases in temperature of between 0.2–1.11°C are expected during the January to June crop growing .
The projected increase in temperature in Tanzania can cause wilting and drying of plants, multiplication of pest, weeds and diseases, resulting in increased costs of crop production and crop yield losses . Warmer temperatures are likely to result in new pests, new parasites and diseases, which may affect both domestic and wild animals . Increases in rainfall causes nutrient leaching, washing away of the topsoil and water logging, pests, disease outbreaks and infrastructure damage that would result into low crop yields and disruption of food supply chain .
Tanzania is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on coastal zones, public health, energy supply and demand, infrastructure, water resources and availability of ecosystem goods and services. The country is also prone to risks from extreme weather events such as increased seasonal variation in rainfall and temperature, and frequent and prolonged droughts and floods.
Changing temperature and precipitation patterns will likely cause certain diseases to increase in occurrence as well as change their spatio-temporal distribution. It is projected that highland areas in East Africa will experience an increase in malaria epidemics as a result of climate change. . There are likely economic costs to the country estimated at about US$500 million per year, a cost that is projected to increase in future to up to US$1 billion per year by 2030 .
The retreat of the glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro is the most iconic indication of climate change impacts in Tanzania. The glaciers were about 4.2 sq km in 1976, and this had declined to 2.6 sq km in 2000 .
Changes in water flow due to drought have affected the capacity of Tanzania to generate and supply electricity. Low water levels forced the temporary shutting down of hydropower plants. The country´s hydro- electric power crisis of 2006/07 which was accompanied by power blackouts was directly a consequence of drought related climate change .
Tanzania´s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of 2015 notes that the country has negligible emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), with per capita emissions estimated at 0.2 tCO2e1. The country has 48.1 million ha of forests, with an estimated 9.032 Trillion tons of carbon stock. This implies that Tanzania is a net sink. However, the WRI CAIT climate data explorer for Tanzania for the period 1990- 2013 emission values, excluding Land Use Change and Forestry (LUCF), were 77.95% with per capita GHG of 1.55tCO. Total emissions values including LUCF were at 287.12 with per capita emissions of 5.72tCO2 e. The highest emission contributions are from LUCF, agriculture, energy and other fuel combustion .
In general, Tanzania’s emissions of carbon dioxide are increasing from 1.89 million tons in 1990 to 11.58 million tons in 2018 . Much of the emissions are from the use of liquid and solid fuels. It is important to notice that some emissions from fire burning may go unrecorded.
Key policies and governance approach
Despite Tanzania’s low GHG, the country is committed to undertaking mitigation measures based on national circumstances and capabilities. The National Climate Change Response Strategy (2021) and the Zanzibar Climate Change Strategy (2014) contain measures and actions to enhance adaptive capacity to climate change and promote adaptation, and to enhance participation in climate change mitigation activities through international efforts. Some of the national efforts seek to address the country’s weak institutional and financial capacity; address access to appropriate technologies; improve climate knowledge, and raise public awareness.
The focal point for climate change in the country is the Division of Environment in the Vice President’s Office (VPO), which is a prominent ministry reporting directly to the Vice-President. The VPO coordinates climate policy and handles Tanzania’s international climate engagement, including responsibility for the formulation and implementation of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) .
Successes and remaining challenges
While Tanzania is committed to the global cause for mitigation by signing up to most major initiatives such as the Paris Agreement, such efforts need to be complemented by a domestic shift away from thermal power. The country has not shown its intention to move away from coal and oil powered electricity, and to invest more into solar and wind power.
The high dependency on firewood and charcoal for domestic energy means the country has very limited options to transform its energy sector and to reduce emissions from Land Use Change and Forestry.
Initiatives and Development Plans
Tanzania seeks to turn into a middle-income country by 2025 by prioritizing food security, industrialization, economic growth, and improved health services and infrastructure. In order to ensure that climate action is mainstreamed into the country’s developmental plans, the following initiatives are planned:
- Strengthening links between national policies and local implementation to facilitate an integrated, inclusive, participatory, and informed process of climate change adaptation.
- Linking national policies more strongly with international or regional processes to benefit from enhanced cooperation.
- Formulating clear implementation steps and closing gaps in concrete financing and capacity building for climate action.
- Linking national policies on climate change adaptation with the Agenda 2030 goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; creating synergies to prevent adaptation actions to fall only under shared aspects of the national development plans.
- Formulating climate change policies and strategies for all sectors .
Goals and Ambitions
Tanzania will embark on a climate resilient development pathway as a means to reduce the impacts of climate change variability and associated extremes such as droughts and floods, which have long-term implications to all productive sectors and ecosystems, particularly the agricultural sector. The adaptation measures are expected to significantly reduce the risks of climate related disasters compared to the current situation. Access to clean and safe water for total population in urban and rural areas will be increased from 86% and 67.7% respectively in 2015 to 100% by 2030. Based on a conservative and a worst-case scenario of 50cm and 1m sea-level rise by 2100, the contribution will verifiably reduce the impacts of sea level rise to the island and coastal communities, infrastructure and ecosystems including mangroves. To achieve these targets, the government will consider the impacts of climate change in development planning at all levels and will pursue adaptation measures as outlined in this NDC .
A specific target of the country is to will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 10-20% by 2030 relative to the scenario of 138 - 153 Million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e)- gross emissions.
Based on the foregoing, Tanzania will need measures to adapt to the changing climate, as well as to play a part in international efforts towards mitigation. The EU Green Deal has enabled various options for Tanzania, including:
- Climate sensitive agriculture, which should see a roll out of conservation agriculture as part of measures to not only allow for better soil water management, but also to improve soil fertility for higher yields.
- Gradual phase out of thermal energy solutions in favour of renewable energy from form solar and wind.
- Stabilization and expansion of the electricity distribution grid so that rural coverage is increased, and the rural economy is not only diversified but also modernized, with clean jobs following.
- Support to mini and small-scale infrastructure for electricity generation, including that which allows for off-grid electricity provision.
- Improvement in the quality of life and in incomes, resulting in a shift away from the high dependency on firewood and charcoal, as well as poor farming practices.
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