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Mt. Kilimanjaro Declining Snow Worries The President

BY DAVID MUWANGA, 23 SEPTEMBER 2012

Arusha — Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has decried the country’s changing weather patterns that have resulted into among others the declining snow at Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He said in many parts of Tanzania, temperature has increased by about 0.2 to 0.6 degree centigrade for the past 30 years whose impact is evidenced by the fast decline of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and the advent of malaria in high altitude temperate regions that were formerly malarias free.

Mount Kilimanjaro which is Africa’s highest peak attracts more than 35,000 annual climbers and the earnings from the total in-country tourists expenditure is averaged at around US$ 50 million (Tsh80 billion/-) per year.

According to the SNV-Overseas Development Institute (ODI) study, the Tsh80 billion/- generated by Mt Kilimanjaro per year, is also a significant economic input in a rural context.

The study found that 28 percent of the tourism earnings from Mt Kilimanjaro which is equivalent to over US$ 13 million or 20.8 billion/- is considered pro-poor expenditure, on that it goes straight into the pockets of local people there.

Funded by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), the ODI study concluded that it was the world’s highest and most successful transfer of resources from international tourists to poor people in the locality.However President Kikwete said the weather patterns have changed significantly, in Tanzania, making rainfall less predictable while droughts have become both frequent in occurrence and last longer compared to few years back.

“When rains come, they do so with vengeance causing floods with accompanying destruction of crops, properties and even lives,’ he said at the closing of a one week 14th session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) held at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).

” Sea levels are rising at alarming pace and several parts of coastal regions are at risk of being sub-merged like the town of Pangani, there are already some parts that are now completely under sea as is the case of Mazwe Island near Pangani,” he said.

He attributed the environmental degradation threats to inappropriate human decisions and actions adding that developing countries particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa are suffering the most for they lack the capacity to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

“The majority of these countries are either poor or marginally above the poverty line, as a result they do not have adequate financial resources, technology and human skills to respond effectively to the challenges,” he added.

“It is important to note that, these countries contribute the least to the serious environment challenges threatening our planet, they contribute minimally to carbon emissions which are responsible for global warming,” he said.

He emphasized that those countries which contribute the most to global carbon emission should bear the biggest burden in the efforts to redress the situation.

“The principle of equitable but differentiated responsibility is both rational and justified, those who pollute more should shoulder a bigger burden of cleaning up and rehabilitating the environment, they also have a responsibility to those who suffer because of their actions and inaction,” he noted.

“Unfortunately, they are not doing enough, whereas they realise and accept responsibility they fall short of taking the right actions at the appropriate time,” he said adding that fortunately, these are countries with the financial resources, technology and skills to do it.

“The only thing that remains wanting on their part is political will. It is this deficit which has made global efforts fails to reach the desired outcomes,’ he said.

 

Source: allAfrica

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Deforestation Fuels Temperature Hikes Around Mt. Kilimanjaro

A logging boom has hit Tanzania’s tourist-drawing Kilimanjaro region, reducing the region’s native forests, hitting rainfall and leading to unusually high temperatures.

The increasingly extreme weather has come as a surprise to people who live a stone’s throw from one of the world’s heritage sites, and who had been used to a cold, misty climate.

Joshua Meena, 72, a resident of Machame, told AlertNet that the annual rainfall in the region has been dwindling from year to year over the past decade, affecting farmers who depend on growing coffee and bananas for a living.

“Our livelihood is affected because these crops thrive under a cool climate and also need enough water,” he said.

And in Moshi municipality, eyebrows are raised at the region’s rising temperatures, which now sometimes surpass 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Farenheit) – on occasion higher than the country’s normal hottest places, Dar es Salaam and Tanga.

“I have not seen a situation like this before, the heat is just too much. We virtually do not need sweaters and jackets,” said Onesmo Masawe, a resident of Moshi.

TIMBER AND CHARCOAL

Forests play an in important role in maintaining natural water cycles around Mt. Kilimanjaro, but the region’s forests are disappearing as a result of growing demand for timber across and country and unmanaged logging of trees for timber and charcoal making, residents in the region say.

The government has accused unscrupulous timber dealers, who collude with corrupt officials, for driving the destruction. But forests also have come under pressure as people in the area struggle to meet their energy needs by making charcoal.

Particularly hard hit are the region’s “Erica” trees, which thrive above 2,700 meters (8,850 feet) above sea level and that local people believe are crucial to helping collect cloud moisture. The trees, now on the verge of extinction, according to people in the village of Machame, also provide traditional medicine used to treat fever and diarrhoea.

Growing rainfall shortages in Machame have led some farmers to set up irrigation systems for their fields, while others have moved to cities to find other work.

In Marangu district, a visiting AlertNet reporter could hardly find people working in the fields during the day. Many Marangu residents have moved to Arusha and Dar es Salaam because their farms are not coping well with the drier conditions. They only convene back in the villages during Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Jerome Temba, a resident of Marangu, said because of increasing temperatures some tour guides no longer see the need to help tourists acclimate to colder weather before they trek into high altitudes around Mt. Kilimanjaro.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), reduced rainfall and increasing temperatures in Kilimanjaro have increased the vulnerability to fire and cutting of the region’s forests.

Statistics obtained from UNEP website estimate that between 1976 and 2012, over 15,445 hectares (38,000 acres) of rainforests in the region have been destroyed.

The regional government is taking measures to combat illegal logging and to sensitize local people about the importance of conserving their environment, said Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Leonidas Gama.

“There is no doubt whatsoever inadequate rainfall and higher temperatures in the region is the impact of climate change which is contributed to by our own actions,” he said in a telephone interview.

Gama said the government was embarking on a reforestation drive which aims to plant one million trees in two years in collaboration with governmental and private institutions.

SHRINKING RESERVOIRS

A watchdog NGO made up of journalists from the Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET), conducted an assessment in Kilimanjaro in April, which found that water reservoirs in the region also are being hit by the changing conditions.

Local authorities interviewed by JET estimated that that Lake Jipe has receded by 100 meters in just three years while Nyumba ya mungu Dam has lost almost two-thirds of its water, affecting hydro-electricity production.

A Tanzanian member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Pius Yanda, concurs that the rise in temperature in Kilimanjaro region is a result of global warming.

“In recent years there has been severe deforestation in Kilimanjaro region and that has left many parts devoid of natural vegetation and soil cover. Global warming is a worldwide phenomenon and in Kilimanjaro region local factors have contributed in rising temperatures,” Yanda was quoted in local media as saying.

Yanda observed that deforestation has not been addressed effectively and said he believes temperatures are set to rise even higher if the problem of deforestation is not solved soon.

Kizito Makoye is a journalist based in Dar es Salaam.

Source: allAfrica