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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Desertification known...and action is needed now!

5th March 2012
Evidence of de-forestation in Moshi, which is happening in many parts of the country. The Controller and Auditors General`s Office recently stated that­ there is no effective control in the forestry sector.

Helloh, and today’s subject might one day be a good income generating scheme for opportunists…. sorry entrepreneurs!.

A broadcaster recently said that depression is often overlooked in Africa, and some time ago, when the World Health Organisation said this could have consequences, an expert speaking of an epidemic, was almost pleadingly asked by a reporter “could it even become a pandemic”?.

I thought this eventually might be a good example of the self fulfilling prophecy, giving the west a chance once again to manipulate developing nations. Just think of the army of self styled foreign ‘specialists’, ‘consultants’, and assorted hangers on ready to depart for the continent if it ever really got underway.

Along with many other mental health problems that are grossly under funded and neglected in third world countries, depression can be a serious one, but in the west, it’s the spin off industry from it that also causes harm.

The mega powerful advertising companies, ready to pounce on any vulnerable chink in the human armour, have succeeded in making many people chronic worriers, dependant on expensive vitamins and anti-depressants, depleting their normal coping mechanisms in the process.

Are you feeling a little low on Monday morning because your fun weekend is over……no you’re not, you’re depressed…reach for the pills!

It seems in most places with capitalist economies, every aspect of the human condition, must be labelled and exaggerated, in order to create massive marketing opportunities.

In some of them, women who’ve convinced their doctors they’re depressed because of some perceived fault in their looks have received thousands of pounds worth of cosmetic surgery at tax payers expense. Cultivated depression, a modern day ailment aided by powerful commercial interests.

In most parts of Africa though, people suffer genuine hardships, and lives beset by multiple disasters, but strength and stoicism enables them to manage.

……..but depression could still be fostered if there’s enough profit in doing so. There must be millions of happy people living on the African continent, where the rich nations interfere, who can be made miserable to benefit the multinational drug companies, and surely Tanzania wouldn’t be left out!.

Anyway, though ‘fighting corruption’, and ‘poverty reduction’, are still the twin saviours for enterprising locals to earn a bit of cash…as I said at the beginning, those with long term vision could start preparing their N.G.O’s now to access future donor funds……be optimistic.…plan for a pandemic!.


Well I had fun with that piece, but back to doom laden news to depress us. A man I like very much, Controller and Auditor General Ludovick Utouh has the job of delivering much of it, as he did recently when revealing at least 96 per cent of forest harvesting here is conducted illegally.

“There are no effective controls in the forestry sector…..and legal tree cutting accounts for only 4 % “, he warned. A chilling statistic if you care about such important issues, but does the government, or the governed…….apart from another way of accessing donor money for environmental N.G.O’s.

From December 2003, the government cancelled licences to harvest timber in Rufiji. But the following year, all the way from Kibiti to Rufiji, I saw huge trees piled by the road side, and large lorries transporting vast cargos of logs. Many were stuck in the sand as the loads were so heavy.

It later came out, that corrupt forest officers in Coast Region had colluded with businessmen to fell endangered tree species. The scale of which later led to a ban on their exports.

There’s a difference between logging, and tree cutting, but both are carelessly abused here. I doubt if the number of trees being felled for charcoal making corresponds with those being planted, but even if they did, chances are they mightn’t survive, as weather conditions become harsher, and rain fall decreases due to levels of de-forestation. A perpetuating destructive cycle.

Over the decades, the benefits to the nation of promoting an alternative energy source for cooking would have been immense, had those in a position to effect the change done so. But perhaps there was little scope for brokering ‘sweeteners’, and no honey pot to generate their interest!.

The Prime Ministers office initiated National Tree Planting Day in 2001. And in 2004, whilst officiating, the then Minister Zakia Meghi, reminded people of the importance of restoring vegetation, but admitted that only 60,000 hectares of forest were replacing the 91,000 lost yearly, and that the country was slowly turning into a desert. And eight years later in 20l2……?!.

Cutting down any tree, has an immediate effect. The less shade, the hotter everywhere b ecomes, and you don’t need much brain to realise it.

In February l998, I tried to stop the last old tree near the central post office being felled, because as the zonal Posts Corporation manageress told me, the area was going to be a car park, and the contractors requested it. I’ve never forgiven them their stupidity, as the car park could have greatly benefited from the shade provided, as well as from its beauty.

It seems that some people can cut down a tree that’s taken decades to mature, with as little regret as squashing a fly. And some builders and contractors are so environmentally uncouth, they’ll blitz anything that grows for no reason.

Civil servant ‘watch dogs’ do little to retard this, and no doubt when there’s a photo opportunity attend tree planting celebrations. C.C.M. did this in places like Kariakoo at one time, but without follow up watering, the seedlings died. Perhaps the exercise itself was sufficient for propaganda purposes.

With attitudes like this, we can hardly be surprised therefore, if a large majority of the populace, view a tree only as a means to cooking a meal!

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