A Step Towards An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle In Tanzania

25 May 2011 FDI Team

Background

Tanzania is currently looking at developing a group of eco-villages with the financial support of the European Commission. Eco-villages are communities designed with the aim of promoting ecological, social and economic sustainability. To support the country’s efforts, the Commission launched the Global Climate Change Alliance in Tanzania on 26 October 2010. Tom Vens, the head of the political and press section at the European Union delegation to Tanzania, reported in the delegation’s 27 October media release, that the Commission had allocated €2.2 million ($2.9 million) to Tanzaniaas a financial contribution to the Alliance.

Comment

The main aim of this experiment is to encourage the adoption of an environmentally friendly lifestyle. With such a programme, the country hopes to counter most of its climate-linked problems, as well as serve as a model for the African continent, given its vulnerability to unpredictable climate changes.The project will be managed by Tanzania’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and guided by a National Climate Change Commission, chaired by the office of the Vice-President.Mr Vens said that the projects will be built in rural communities aiming to cope with, and recover from, climate change, and that are looking at reducing the rate of carbon emissions. Given the emerging climate-linked problems, such as inconsistent rainfall, floods, droughts, rising temperatures, rising sea levels and changes in disease patterns, Tanzania has seen the need to curb inefficient natural resource extraction. Past practices have led to deforestation, soil erosion and pollution. In the selected villages, villagers will cook their food using biogas and energy-efficient kilns, instead of the usual charcoal and wood fuels, which are currently becoming scarce. In addition, they will create seawalls and coastal management systems in areas threatened by coastal erosion. Other solutions like reforestation, water harvesting, and planting drought-resistant crop species, will be discussed further.

The idea of such villages can be dated back to 1973. The late Julius Nyerere, first president of independent Tanzania, ordered scattered rural inhabitants into “Ujamaa villages”, where people would live collectively in “Harmony”. Although the main aim of the project was to create an egalitarian society and promote self-reliance, many moved willingly due to the shortage of food caused by a drought that ultimately halved the grain harvest. Some who refused were coerced. Tanzania’s food production gradually declined and therefore the project failed.This was partly due to the decline of commodity prices in the 1970s and also the absence of wider economic reforms. 

After such a long time, it seems there is a promising future for this new project. An article, written by Mohamed Issa and published in AlertNet, quoted Present Mlay,a climate change analyst, as sayingthat rural communities are determined to deal with the growing climate pressures, such as rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and increased floods and droughts. However, their limited ability to adapt to such changes tends to make matters worse.

If this project succeeds, there may well be a promising future, not only for Tanzania, but also for other developing countries in the same situation. The project faces substantial challenges, such as the diverse levels of knowledge among the people involved and the variety of customs in the regions they come from. Nevertheless, there is hope that the eco-villages can counter the pressures of climate change. In addition, there is even the hope that the villages will one day become eco-tourism attractions.

Aida Mliga

FDI Researcher

Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme

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