The environmental sustainable index of 2002 ranks Tanzania 80 th
out of 142 countries. Tanzania has signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,
Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, the UN Convention on Combating Desertification, the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species, the Basel Convention on the Transportation of Hazardous
Wastes, the Vienna Convention for the protection of the Ozone Layer and the RAMSAR Convention on
Wetlands. Human impacts on deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing, and degradation of water resources and loss of biodiversity have all resulted into land degradation. Poor agricultural practices such as shifting cultivation, lack of crop rotation practices, lack of agricultural technology and land husbandry techniques exacerbate the problem.
Pollution is a major problem in urban areas of Tanzania. Improper treatment and disposal of solid and liquid wastes are the major contributors to urban area pollution. The combined results of these problems are that both air and water have been contaminated with pollutants, which are detrimental to human health. In Dar es Salaam, for example, less than 5% of the population is connected to a sewage system.
Where a sewage system exists, raw sewage is discharged directly into the Indian Ocean without prior treatment. Thus a workable water supply and sewage treatment is needed for the urban areas
Recognizing the dangers of releasing pollutants into the atmosphere, the chemical industry in Tanzania has embarked on identifying and reducing pollutants by adding effluent treatment and scrubbing units to existing processes. A few operators have succeeded in optimizing operations in order to reduce fugitive emissions and waste generations. An example is the introduction of membrane separation to replace mercury-based techniques in the color-alkali industry. Some firms have been able to substitute dangerous organic chemicals and trichloroethylene with less hazardous alternatives.
Tanzania has sufficient water resources to meet most of its present needs and they include surface and underground sources. About 7 percent of the land surface is covered by 3 lakes (all of them fresh water) which border the country apart from other inland lakes. The three lakes include Lake Victoria (second largest fresh water lake in the world), Lake Tanganyika (second deepest lake in the world) and Lake
Nyasa. Inland Lakes include Rukwa, Eyasi and Manyara. Underground water is also another important source of water for both urban and rural settlement areas.
The increased pressure on surface water is due to a number of factors. Surface water levels are reported to have been decreasing because of loss of vegetation cover and changes in land use patterns, resulting from population increases. Rivers which used to be perennial have become intermittent. While irrigation is expected to increase, unregulated abstraction of water is already a source of concern in all major river basins. The demand for water in a number of major urban centres is increasing because the population is also increasing at a fast rate. In urban areas the largest use of water is household consumption. The demand for water exceeds supply in most urban centres. Providing safe drinking water, and environmentally acceptable sanitation and sewage treatment remain priority issues in Tanzania.
Tanzania shares a number of water bodies with neighboring countries. Of these, Lake Victoria has a serious pollution problem. Untreated discharges of sewage from the country's second largest city of
Mwanza reach the lake. In addition, large textile and tannery mills discharge toxic substances and oxygen demanding pollutants. Coffee, cotton processing, cotton ginneries, vegetable oil mills, cosmetics industry, soap and fish processing plants discharge oxygen demanding wastes into the lake catchment area. Other sources of contamination include mercury waste coming from mining areas in the Lake
Basin, and run-offs from the overuse of agro-chemicals and fertilizer in cotton production. A joint
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international effort to reduce pollution loading in the lake, and better manage fishing and other activities is being supported by the World Bank and the Global Environment Fund.
Tanzania's "protected areas" cover about 25% of the total land. The extensive national parks, 'the
Eastern Arc' mountains, wetlands, coastal forests, marine and fresh water systems as outstanding reservoirs of plant and animal species make Tanzania one of the world's greatest reservoirs of wildlife and biodiversity. Statistics indicate that of the 10,000 plant species so far recorded, over a quarter are endemic. Tanzania is also home to 31 endemic species of amphibians, 18 endemic species of lizards, 9 species of snakes, 10 bird species, forty percent of the world's wild coffee varieties, and about 80% of the famous African violet flowers. Tanzania is a custodian of world heritage in the form of game reserves and national parks. The Selous Game Reserve, the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park are
World Heritage Sites. Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crate and Serengeti National Park have been designated as biosphere reserves. Unfortunately, communities living around these protected areas do not benefit from the wildlife industry. They live in uncertain conditions visited by persistent attacks by the wild animals and destruction of their crops. This has resulted in an antagonistic relationship between the wildlife authorities and the local populace. Local communities resort to activities like poaching to gain access to and benefits from the wildlife and other natural resources.
The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania acceded to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer on 7 th
April, 1993, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on 16 th
April, 1993 and ratified all the Amendments on 6 th
December, 2002. A Country Programme to phase-out ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) in Tanzania was approved in October 1996 by the
Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund. Since then over US$ 500,000 have been approved by the
Executive Committee for various ODS phase out activities in the country. Most of these activities are being implemented by UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO and GZT. The implementation of the Montreal Protocol in
Tanzania is going on well. The Environmental Management Act (2004) came into force in July 2005. The
Act empowers the Minister responsible for Environment to make regulations for control of importation, exportation and consumption of ODS or related equipment. Hence the draft ODS regulations (2003) now have to be realigned with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act. The regulations when effected will introduce a licensing system for ODS and import quotas.
Land and forest resources are the main natural endowments of Tanzania. However, it is estimated that the country's forest area has declined from 44,300,000 ha or 50% of total land area in 1938 to 33,
096,000 ha or 43% of total land area in 1987. Currently forests are estimated to cover 33.5 million ha.
Causes of deforestation are mainly heavy pressure from agricultural expansion, livestock grazing, wildfire, over-exploitation of wood resources. There are no reliable figures on deforestation in Tanzania although according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates, it ranges from
130,000 to 500,000 ha per annum. The major effect of deforestation is the deterioration of the ecological system with resulting negative impacts on soil fertility, water flows, and biological diversity. Forest fires are also rampant particularly in natural forests where monitoring is very difficult. The national capacity to fight fires is quite limited both technically and financially. Over the past three decades, perspectives on the role of the forest have changed considerably. There is also pressure arising from the ever increasing demand for wood fuels, fodder, and timber and forest land for other uses, especially agriculture. The challenge now is how to manage the forest resources as a national heritage on an integrated basis in order to optimize their environmental, economic, social, and cultural benefits.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force.
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Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry is mainly limited to processing agricultural products and light consumer goods. The World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's deteriorated economic infrastructure. Growth in 1991-2000 featured a pick up in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals, led by gold.
Agriculture dominates Tanzania’s economy, employing more than three-quarters of the working population and accounting for 64 per cent of all exports. Key exports include coffee, cotton, sisal, cashew nuts, meat, tobacco, tea, cloves, coconuts, and pyrethrum (a pesticide made from chrysanthemums).
Agricultural processing, producing mainly sugar, beer, cigarettes, and sisal twine, is the main industry, but Tanzania also makes textiles, clothing, footwear, construction materials, and fertilizer. The country also produces diamonds; other natural resources include phosphates, iron ore, gold, nickel, salt, and substantial but little-exploited reserves of coal and tin. Tourism is a potential growth sector.
Tanzanian forests supply the bulk of the energy demand the biomass energy resource, which comprises fuel-wood and charcoal from natural forest and plantations, accounts for 93 per cent of total energy consumption. Petroleum, hydropower and coal are the major source of commercial energy in the country.
Wood accounts for 90% of the total energy used in Tanzania. While the supply of fuelwood is dwindling, demand is rapidly increasing. More than 90% of the population depends on wood fuel energy.
The transport sector is the main consumer of petroleum products. Presently only 70 per cent of the demand for petroleum is met. There are a number of companies exploring for oil, but so far no positive results have been found. However natural gas, which is available, is to be the likely substitute for oil.
There are other indigenous alternative sources of energy which include coal. Tanzania has 1,200 million metric tons, which could provide energy for paper mills, cement factories, agriculture and household consumption, and generation of power. Wind and solar energy is another source of energy. Very little attempt has been made to utilize this source of energy which could be a viable alternative source to reduce use of wood and oil for heating purposes.
Human impacts on deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing, and degradation of water resources and loss of biodiversity have all resulted into land degradation. Poor agricultural practices such as shifting cultivation, lack of crop rotation practices, lack of agricultural technology and land husbandry techniques exacerbate the problem. Only 3.2% of Tanzania is covered by closed dense forests. According to the
United Nations Sudano Sahelian Office (UNSO), about 33% of Tanzania is affected by desertification.
The most affected areas are those in the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub humid areas with potential economic resources and biodiversity which are most vulnerable to land degradation. Agriculture and rangeland resources are the backbone of Tanzania's economy. It is estimated that about 55% of the land could be used for agriculture and over 51% for pastoral lands. However, only about six percent of the agricultural land is cultivated with the practice of shifting cultivation which causes deforestation and land degradation on the pastoral land. Lake Manyara basin, Geita Gold Mines, Usangu Wetlands and
Ngorongoro Conservation areas have been affected the most by inadequate control and land management. The main cause for these problems is due to lack of proper instruments of enforcement of the existing legislation, policy and by-laws by local authorities.
Tanzania’s coast includes estuaries, mangrove forests, coral reefs, sand beaches, sea grass beds and muddy tidal flats, which sustain a tremendous diversity of marine life and most coastal communities.
However, the combination of poverty, rapid population growth, poor understanding and management of resources and limited institutional capacity has resulted in a number of environmental problems in some coastal areas. Of these problems, the main ones are: Marine pollution, over-exploitation of resources
Destructive fishing methods, coastal erosion, loss of coastal and marine biodiversity, the environmental
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problems have consequently led to local concern about the significance of coastal pollution, the integrity of coastal fish stocks and ecosystems, as well as the potential impact of human activities on these different ecosystems.
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