This week Gerald Kitabu interviewed the leader of Good News for All Ministry, Bishop Charles Gadi Kahundami, on the role of religious leaders in the mitigation of climate change in the country: Excerpts:
QUESTION: Religious leaders are part of the society, which in recent years has been affected by climate change. What exactly is the role of religious leaders in this issue?
ANSWER: Religious leaders have a key role to play probably than any other section of the society. This is because they have the backing of their followers.
Whatever they preach, worshippers will easily believe and act accordingly. They can use the same approach to impart knowledge of mitigating climate change and rescue the nation from occurring disasters such as floods and droughts. Religious leaders can educate people on proper environment management such as planting trees.
People must understand that this earth is like a renting home. It is being rented to human beings from the time of birth to the time of death. So human beings are expected to ensure that they manage their home wisely.
The home must remain green, clean, and unpolluted. If our ancestors did not manage the environment, nobody would have been proud of it today.
We are also aware that climate change has disproportionate effects on the poor and irreversible consequences for future generations.
Q: What has ministry done so far?
A: You know many religions and denominations in the country are joining forces to supplement government efforts and individual efforts in the mitigation of climate change because it is an urgent issue and a moral imperative.
Last week, for example, we had a mission in Dar es Salaam. Our ministry conducted a three-day prayers on disaster management. The prayers were held at Biafra grounds in Dar es Salaam from Thursday to Saturday and were accompanied by fasting among the worshippers. More than ten different Christian denominations took part.
The aim of the prayers was to educate people on the impact of climate change, disaster management and protect and other issues.
You remember last week the nation witnessed destruction of more than one hundred homes at Mbagala in Dar es Salaam caused by strong winds. Of course, when such disasters happen religious leaders and followers have an obligation to seek God’s mercy through prayers.
Q: It seems your prayers are based in Dar es Salaam, do you have any plans to hold similar prayers in rural areas?
A: Our ministry was one of the first responders to mitigate the climate change in rural areas in Tanzania. We realise d the inequities experienced by poor rural communities and the urban dwellers. As a result, we became the greatest champions of marginalised communities in different regions in the country.
For example, we have been conducting fruitful payers in the Southern Highlands and at Mtera dam in particular, for the past ten years. We understand that when people living in the highlands are educated to manage their environment Mtera and Kidatu dams will receive enough water and produce power.
Q: What sucesse have you registered?
A: There are many achievements. For example, last week when we conducted our prayers in Dar es Salaam, different areas in Tanzania such as Rukwa, Songea, Mtwara, Manyoni, Mbeya, Morogoro, Kidatu, including Dar es Salaam experienced rains.
So, we think that our payers have contributed to bring the rains. However, in all areas where we have been conducting our payers, people from all walks of life have started understanding the importance of managing the environment. Our religious team -- including environmental experts are preaching the word of God but also educating people on the environmental management.
Q: How do you know that you are succeeding?
A: First of all, we are conducting prayers every month in a selected region. So, we know because we see the difference. However, we are getting feedback from the rural communities where we had visited and conducted prayers. Our religious team has a monitoring and evaluation unit which assesses and reviews our programmes and activities on a quarterly basis.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: Because environment is key to life, we shall continue educating people on the need for regular prayers and also encouraging them to plant more trees as a way of climate change mitigation. We think that it is our duty and responsibility.