Tanzania urges African plan against climate change disasters

A aerial view of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Scientists warn that coastal floods could lead to the sinking of the city in 50 years time.

The Tanzanian government has urged African leaders to as a matter of urgency, plan against climate–change related disasters, adding “every disaster represents a setback to development”.

The Director, Disaster Management Department, Prime Minster’s office, Brig.-Gen. Moses Msuya, made the call at a conference on Building Urban Resilience in Tanzania, organised by the World Bank and DFID.

Tanzania is the most flood-affected country in East Africa, and rapid urbanisation is increasing our vulnerability to climate-related risks.Tanzanian towns and cities have undergone massive spatial expansion. In Dar es Salaam, an estimated 70 to 80 per cent of residents live in unplanned settlements“, he said.

In Mwanza, it is estimated that 81 per cent of households in hazard-prone areas are also in the low-income population bracket, which increase their vulnerability to disaster.This rapid urban expansion raises challenges for all in Tanzania, affecting services such as water, sanitation, solid waste, electricity, and associated infrastructure,” he said.

Msuya said that in Dar es Salaam, floods in 2009, 2011, and 2014, caused loss of life, injury, and severely impacted diverse sectors including transportation, energy and social infrastructure such as schools and health facilities.

While impacts are felt across Dar es Salaam and other cities, he said. major damages and public safety risks were generally more severe in populated river valleys, such as the Msimbazi Valley in Dar es Salaam.

He said the proposed Tanzania Urban Resilience Programme by the World Bank would indeed build resilience to disasters, now and in the future.

Similarly, the Senior Disaster and Risk Management Specialist, World Bank, Mr Edward Anderson, said the resilience programme would cover risk identification and reduction, disaster preparedness and emergency management.

No disaster is entirely natural. Risk presents the very real possibility of a disaster, disaster itself is often a failure in development planning”, he observed.

According to a UN survey, more than half of humanity now lives in cities, and over the next 90 years, 95 per cent of global urban growth will occur in developing and emerging countries.While this growth is bound to alleviate poverty, generate wealth, and fuel global prosperity, cities are struggling to keep up, dramatically increasing the concentration of people and assets exposed to risk“.

In East Africa, Tanzania bears the heaviest burden as the most flood-affected country in the region. Dar es Salaam, in particular, is the largest and fastest growing East African metropolitan area, and the city’s infrastructure assets of 5.3 billion dollars are at risk of projected flood impact due to climate change.

A new study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) discovered that the average number of global natural disasters, including those related to climate change, have doubled since the 1980s.

Satellite image of the Tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear plant in Futaba, Japan in 2011. (Photo by DigitalGlobe)

Additionally, the report determined that in a single decade (2003 to 2013), the economic damage from these events came at an estimated cost of 1.5 trillion dollars with 80 billion dollars in losses due to decreased crop and livestock production in the developing world.

In relation to Nigeria, studies published in 2011, raised alarm over the high risk of coastal and urban flooding due to climate change and sea level rise, aggravated by the lack of adequate drainage.

The UN said that Lagos was identified as one of the megacities most vulnerable to sea level rise.

The world body also said Lagos emission levels are astronomically high at 1.44 Trigrams (Tg) per year, higher than Beijing, 1.23 Tg, Tokyo 0.46 Tg per year and London, 0.13Tg per year.

The UN added that there are no fewer than six million vehicles on the roads of Lagos every year in addition to fumes from millions of generators in Lagos.

The air pollution has serous negative impacts on human health in Lagos.