Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal has challenged government institutions and non-governmental organizations to ensure they make good use of World Environment Day by raising public awareness on the importance of conserving the environment in order to avoid degradation.
Dr Bilal threw the challenge when launching activities for the World Environment Week, which is nationally being celebrated in Kilimanjaro region.
During the week a number of activities have been lined up, including exhibition by both government and non-government institutions.
He called on the people to visit the exhibition so as to improve their understanding of environmental issues and their challenges given the fact that it is every one's duty to care for and conserve the environment.
He said this year's celebrations were unique because they would accompanied by presidential awards to those who excelled in the conservation of water sources and tree planting.
He said the purpose of the celebration was to increase people's participation in conservation efforts, particularly water sources.
“We're doing all this because we want to rescue the nation and avoid calamities related to environmental degradation, particularly desertification,” he said.
He said the region was selected to host the celebrations because, besides its exemplary efforts in conserving the environment, it also was experienced devastating environmental challenges in some places, including loss of biodiversity in such places as Lake Jipe, which was getting covered by water lilies.
He said global warming was affecting one of the highest mountains in the world, Kilimanjaro, which is a world heritage site.
He commended the efforts of the residents of the region to keep their surroundings clean.
Earlier, Kilimanjaro regional commissioner Leonidas Gama said the region was facing a number of challenges, including high population density whereby, on average, a square kilometre was inhabited by an average of 104 people.
He said there was rampant invasion of forest reserves as criminals illegally harvested forest products, including cutting down trees and starting wild fires.
However, he said under tree planting campaigns currently going on, over 5 million trees had been planted in different parts of the region and that the goal was to plant 10 million trees by 2013.