Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has said the government is working hard to ensure climate change will not put at risk the welfare and growth of Unguja and Pemba islands.
He said the changing climate had effects on the islands and if no deliberate measures were taken now, Zanzibar would find itself in a precarious state in a few years to come.
He said this at the opening of a symposium on the effects of the changing climate on small islands held in Migombani in Zanzibar recently.
He said the climate change effects included rising sea levels that had started eroding the shoreline of the isles.
He said there were already signs that Zanzibar had started being affected by the rising level of the Indian Ocean.
He said six districts out of 10 had started experiencing water erosion, as the sea level kept rising.
“We've already witnessed the sea level going up. The land, which used to be productive, is now rendered unusable. Some cemeteries have been covered with water and people's economic activities have been affected," said Dr Shein.
He noted that the government had worked out some strategic plans to support people, who were directly affected by the changes including providing them with clean and safe water, particularly in Nungwi in northern Unguja, where freshwater had mixed with seawater.
He said it was high time there was an international consensus on how to mitigate climate change and review of the Kyoto Protocol was important as agreed during the recently concluded climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
For his part, Vice Chancellor of the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), Prof Idrissa Rai, said SUZA had established a special department to research into the marine environment hopping that it would make significant contributions to the understanding of marine behaviour and how best to protect the people against changing sea patterns.
He said research was very important in understanding the effects of the degradation of the environment.
Countries participating in the three-day meeting include Britain, France, India, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (mainland).