Tabling the committee’s report on the financial year 2019/20 budget estimates for the President’s Office (Environment) yesterday, the committee deputy chairman Col (rtd) Ali Khamis Masoud (Mfenesini, CCM) said lakes Manyara, Jipe na Chala all face extinction.
Available evidence points to human activity within and around water catchment areas feeding the water bodies including excessive cutting of trees as the main problem, he said.
To save the country from the effects of deforestation including desertification and dwindling water resources, the committee called on the government to significantly scale up environmental protection programmes, starting from the coming financial year.
He said that at present around 61 per cent of the country was in danger of turning into desert, with the most affected regions as Dodoma, Singida, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Manyara and parts of Kilimanjaro.
“Studies show that a forest the size of a football pitch is being felled in the country every hour. These figures have made Tanzania one of the five countries that lead in deforestation in the world,” said Khamis.
Tanzania has in recent years emerged on the list of countries facing water scarcity, he said, insisting on measures to address freefall deforestation caused mainly by avoidable causes.
The country is likely to become water-stressed by 2025 if resources are not managed well, experts have warned in recent expert gatherings.
“The committee advises that the government allocate enough money from internal revenue sources towards environmental conservation. The recent trend is that environmental issues are left to foreign aid funding, and this is not right,” he told the House.
Environmentalists warn that more than 370,000 hectares (915,000 acres) of tree cover is being cut in Tanzania every year, mostly for fuel.
Statistics show that 2.3 million tonnes of charcoal are consumed in the country annually, roughly half of it in Dar es Salaam, and the demand is projected to double by 2030.
A forest inventory by Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) in 2015 found that forests and wooded areas cover over 48 million hectares of land, underlining that wood remains the main source of fuel for Tanzanians, even in urban areas.
Biomass energy provides 92 percent of energy needs for Tanzanians, which is causing an unsustainable use of forest resources, the report intoned.