An environmental Independence Day a reminder of what’s crucial

11Dec 2020
Editor
The Guardian
An environmental Independence Day a reminder of what’s crucial

PEOPLE across the country marked the 59th anniversary of Tanganyika’s Independence by engaging in massive tree planting activities.

This was a prolongation of what was set out in the early days of the current government, with then-incoming President John Magufuli cancelling Uhuru Day celebrations at the National Stadium in 2015.

He then directed that the money set aside for the occasion be used to widen the Morocco-Mwenge stretch of Dar es Salaam’s Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road. This measure has resulted in the well-received easing of congestion previously lasting hours.

After marking the day with pageantry for two years, the president again cancelled the 2018 festivities and directed that the money meant for the celebrations be used for the speeding up of the construction of Uhuru Hospital in Dodoma, which is expected to complement the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital as an elevated referral hospital.

Having observed the huge festival last year, the same decision was made for this year’s festivities, noticeably amidst a difference of opinion of sorts between Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and the hospital construction consortium. The premier wanted the work completed and ready for a scheduled December 9 handover.

The Independence festival was cancelled this year, but it was more or less duplicated by the equally captivating ceremony to swear in cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, at the Chamwino State House in the capital.

So there was indeed a presidential address, the swearing-in of a cabinet rather than a military parade, and performances by music groups at the State House in Dodoma rather than the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

In cancelling the celebrations to mark the country’s Independence Day on December 9, the president had directed that funds earmarked for the event be used to procure medical facilities for the newly built Uhuru Hospital at Chamwino, with officials saying about 835,498,700/- had been allocated for the celebrations.

But, lest people forget, environmental concerns were given a distinctly higher profile this time around than previously.

In Tabora, regional commissioner Dr Philemon Sengati led the residents in planting more than 300 trees in the Igombe Dam Forest Reserve, a key water source for Tabora urban residents.

The RC said the activity was meant to support environment conservation efforts, adding that the region would plant 1.5 m trees each year.

Tree planting isn’t all about environment conservation but also the protection of existing forest cover, and in this aspect many regions are placing restrictions on the harvesting of trees for charcoal.

Some activists are still pursuing economical charcoal stoves as a sustainable solution, while others see switching to gas as a more appropriate option.

What has failed to take off is organic sources of domestic energy like the burning of manure or the harvesting of energy from cesspits, chiefly for lack of start-up capital as well as administrative leverage to propagate these sources of energy. Despite limitations, though, crushed coal mixtures can also replace charcoal.

Noticeably, the TRC challenged the larger population to start planting cashewnut and mango trees as part of conserving the environment and generating income.

This appeal ought to be echoed much farther and wider. It is surely part of the Independence Day vision and is also handy in availing families an extra source of income seasonally, or planting other fruit trees – which would definitely boost nutrition levels