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Climate Change Has Immediate, Serious Consequences for Tanzania

For the people of east Africa, especially Tanzania, global warming is having immediate and serious consequences. It’s changing livelihoods, economies and even gender dynamics in families. For example, many cattle herders have switched to farming the limited wetter zones of the East African savannah. At first the change was considered a temporary remedy, but the increased frequency of the droughts has forced pastoralists to continue farming. There’s tension when they encroach on land already occupied, and less food production as plots are divided into smaller and smaller pieces. And if predictions about climate change in East Africa play out, the situation may become worse.

Tanzania is the most biodiverse country in Africa and has set aside nearly a quarter of its land in a network of protected areas. The country is world famous for its wildlife, and more than one-sixth of its income comes from tourism, much of which revolves around that wildlife. But authorities say Tanzania's wildlands and biodiversity are still not safe. They say hunting and unsustainable use of forest products have endangered certain species and entire ecosystems.

Richard Muyingi is a presidential advisor on the environment and natural resources. In the fourth of our five-part series on Africa and climate change, he responds to claims by some international agencies that the economy of Tanzania is really not as vulnerable to climate change as officials fear, because of low industrialization, “despite [the fact] that we are emitting about three percent of global emissions…we are the most impacted. We have most of the least developed countries within Africa, but even those countries within Africa, which are not listed, they are the ones which are going to be impacted. The fourth assessment report made that very clear.”