Over 60 per cent of Tanzania’s forest cover decimated

03May 2016
Felister Peter
The Guardian
Over 60 per cent of Tanzania’s forest cover decimated

THE government declared yesterday that 61 per cent of the country’s vegetation has been destroyed, putting it at risk of turning into a desert as more than one million acres of forest are lost annually.

Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Environment and Union Affairs), January Makamba

In a period of ten years, the country lost a forest area equivalent to the size of Rwanda. Environment destruction has increased annually due to a rising demand for charcoal and firewood as energy sources.

This was observed by the Minister in the Vice President’s Office (Environment) at Parliament when tabling a budget speech for his ministry for the 2016/17 fiscal year.

He said that Dar es Salaam alone consumed between 200,000 and 300,000 sacks of charcoal per month.

To enhance environment conservation activities, he said, the ministry requires 100bn/- to be spent on research and evaluation of environment-related projects. He said part of the money would be used to implement the nation’s 2016-2021 tree planting strategy.

“It is the responsibility of every citizen to protect the environment. The country’s Environment Law requires every village, ward and districts to establish environment management committees,” said the minister, promising that in the 2016/2017 financial year the government will provide capacity building training to environment officers at all levels.

He said efforts were being made to ensure that wananchi opted for alternative energy sources such as gas and kerosene.

In her speech, the Opposition’s Environment Shadow Minister Pauline Gekul expressed dismay over poor expenditure of USD 3.36 million that was provided by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) in 2009.

She said the money was to implement projects to reduce the impacts of Climate Change in Zanzibar and Bagamoyo, Pangani and Rufiji districts.

Gekul said USD 225,000 was earmarked for policy making, USD 345,000 for educational programmes and USD 325,000 for implementation of the project and purchase of working gear.

“Funds were released and spent. We don’t support the government’s idea of requesting for more than 9.2bn/- to implement a similar project in the 2016/17 financial year,” she said.

She said the Opposition camp was aware of the misuse of funds, which she claimed was engineered by two senior government officials from the State House and Vice President’s Office (Climate Change Department).

She requested the Vice President’s Office to direct the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to carry out a special audit of all the Climate Change projects implemented under the office.

Gekul said the Opposition was requesting Parliament to drop the request in the 2016/17 financial year until the CAG report was completed.

The minister requested the National Assembly to approve a total of 24, 032, 883,448/- for implementation of various projects and expenditures in the Vice President’s Office (Environment) in the 2016/2017 financial year.

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