WINDHOEK, January 17, 2012 – Tanzanians are increasingly feeling the intense effects of climate change - it impacts most aspects of daily life and the economy in the East African country, which is largely dependent on agriculture. In 2005, a devastating drought affected millions of people, particularly those that rely on subsistence crops for food and income.
Tanzania is also highly vulnerable to climate shocks, a trend which is expected to increase as droughts, floods, and tropical storms are likely to become more intense and unpredictable as the earth warms. And it is only expected to get worse.
A recent UK Department for International Development (DIFD) study on the economics of climate change in Tanzania estimates that future climate change impacts could result in an annual loss of over two percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. The same study also projected that Tanzania would need US$500 million per year to adapt to current extreme weather events now, while future adaptation could cost an additional US$150 millionannually.
The high costs and interconnected impacts (agriculture, energy and water, the environment and the economy) makes climate change planning critical, but challenging. In an effort to support Tanzania’s preparation of a national climate change strategy, more than 30 Tanzanian decision-makers, researchers, and civil society advocates meet in Windhoek, Namibia for an international Learning Week on Global Best Practices in Comprehensive Climate Change Planning as a precursor to the 17th round of international climate negotiations in Durban in November 2011.
Funded by the World Bank’s South-South Learning Exchange and DIFD, the Tanzania delegation was joined by climate change experts from Namibia, Mexico, South Africa and Zambia, all countries that have undertaken major initiatives to prepare for climate change at the national level.
Ngosi Mwihava, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Tanzanian Ministry of Environment, said the delegation was eager to attend the workshop to “learn from the experience of other global leaders” about climate change policies and programs.
Presentations and interactive discussions on practical topics ranged from how to set the vision to financing investments. There were differing approaches for climate change plans shared by representatives from each country, but participants found several common threads to successful strategies.
For example, participants noted that strong leadership is critical to jump-starting and sustaining the planning process. Miguel A. Altamirano, Deputy Director of Adaptation at Mexico’s National Ecological Institute, described how Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón championed action on climate change and pushed the government to act. South Africa’s experience demonstrated the importance of well-organized stakeholder engagement. Irene Koenze, of the South African Ministry of Environment and Tourism, discussed how stakeholder engagement was an expensive, lengthy process. Yet the benefits were clear: a series of thematic workshops to gain input from the scientific community, civil society, and sectors across the government, together with a high degree of transparency, have been instrumental in moving forward South Africa’s Climate Change Response Strategy, Koenze said.
In addition to the workshop discussions, participants visited several innovative climate change adaptation efforts at work in Namibia. At the Habitat Research and Development Centre, the group observed how local technologies and recycled materials are developed and tested for use in environmentally sustainable housing designs. Participants also visited factories that manufacture charcoal and compressed wood briquettes from invasive bush plants cleared from ranch lands and game preserves, demonstrating how waste can benefit wildlife and the environment by providing a better habitat and more a efficient energy source, as well as create jobs.
Tanzanian delegates met to summarize the main takeaways from the workshop and next steps after returning from Windhoek. Tanzanian officials agreed on an action plan and invited the workshop participants to meet again to discuss progress on the national strategy.
“The Tanzanian representation here strongly acknowledges the need to revamp the climate change process in Tanzania,” said Dr. Bonaventure Baya from the National Environmental Management Council. “We want to ensure there is new momentum in driving the process in Tanzania.”