Rising temperatures, more rain during the wet season and less in the dry season are a threat to future people’s livelihood in Tanzania, according to a new study.
The study says increased deforestation in most parts of the country was likely to worsen the situation for both wildlife and people who depend on the natural environment for their basic needs.
Climate Change specialist at Nature Conservancy, Dr Elizabeth Gray presenting her study entitled: “Empowering Communities to adapt to climate change in Western Tanzania” at the ongoing climate change conference, said its aim was to better understand how climate has been and will continue changing and finding ways to adapt.
She said the findings could be used to take a broad view of the climate patterns in almost all parts of the country.
The study for example established that the country’s annual temperatures have been rising at a rate of 0.12°C for the last 50 years, further predicting that it would increase by 1.3-2.2°C over the next fifty years.
Dr Gray also pointed out in an interview that decrease in fish stocks in Lake Tanganyika provided enough evidence how fresh water systems would be heavily impacted by the climate change.
“A number of studies have shown that 10 million people rely on Lake Tanganyika and waters have been warming since 1900s. This shows how climate will impact on the fish and trends will continue and worsen,” she said.
Local authorities in Western Tanzania in collaboration with people living in the area have developed adaptation strategies after the study was finalised, according to Dr Gray.
“Village land use planning will take into account such information and set aside forest protected areas that are resilient to climate change,” said Dr Gray.
The study was an urgent wake-up call for authorities to start developing ways to adapt to climate change impacts and possibly reproduce adaptation strategies used in the area in other places of the country, Dr Gray said.
The study used an adaptation tool called Climate Wizard to identify climate impacts and predict future conditions.
“The tool uses historic statistical data to inform future predictions so its findings in small area could be used to generalise the weather situation across the country,” said Dr Gray.
“The community has recommended that they would like to see a policy framework for a national policy. But the key lesson from the people on the ground is that when you take information on climate change to them, they change the scope and focus of what they are doing.
This reinforces the importance of strong local, regional a d national government linked with strong local action,” she said in an interview after she had presented the study.
Dr Gray said she had learnt from the study that it was important for a country like Tanzania to have a larger number of weather stations recording data in a standardised manner.
“The more stations you have the higher the accuracy, but sometimes equipment breaks and someone leaves the post without being replaced,” she said.
The study was carried out in Western Tanzania, around Lake Tanganyika. It covered Gombe Game Reserve, Mahale Mountain Reserve, Katavi and Ugalla.
It was funded by Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), Jane Goodall Institute, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and USAID.