Growing tides threaten coastal cities of Tanzania

Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal Tanzania and other officials are looking at the destroyed sea wall in Pangani, Tanzania. Rising sea levels contribute to flooding of the city. ALERTNET / Kizito Makoye

Pangani, Tanzania (AlertNet) — Strengthened Indian Ocean tides forced hundreds of people to leave their homes in the north-east of Tanzania, Pangani District. Several towns and villages affected by flooding with salt water, destroying property, and fresh water. Scientists and government officials believe that the reason climate change and crumbling sea defenses. Government has urged people to move as far away from the sea and the promise to repair bank protection structures. As experts say, the local tourism sector remains under threat, as rising sea levels and increasing storm surges destroy the coast and coastal infrastructure. Buyuni The village, which is located just steps away from the coast, more than a dozen families have fled their homes after the flooding, and fled to safer regions.

Fisherman Vicente Magomba, exchanging fifties, very concerned about the safety of family houses as sea water destroys the foundation. "I can not sleep at night because I do not know when the water is completely destroyed my house, and I have no money to build a new one," — he said. Risk of flooding prone to many coastal communities — from Pemba to Tanga Bagamoyo largest city of Dar es Salaam.

Professor of Agricultural University climatologist Sokoyne in Morogoro said that climate change is caused by human activity that can directly contribute to sea level rise, due to the phenomenon of thermal expansion, when higher temperatures cause water to expand. Another factor in the rise in sea level, it is keeping an glaciers — the largest in the world reservoirs of fresh water (in this case, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania).

The destruction of sea defenses

Pangani residents say the problem started a few years ago, when the two-kilometer concrete wall, built during the German occupation, was damaged. Now much of it is destroyed, and when the water is, the wall can not hold it, and flow again flooded villages. The situation worsened mangroves — natural protection from the waves and tides. But local residents are no longer able to sleep peacefully because of the threat of flooding.

The government has asked the affected residents, and reported that it will take all necessary measures to protect them from flooding. This will be $ 2.3 billion Tanzanian shillings (about U.S. $ 1.5 million). But local residents accuse the authorities of delays.

Dar es Salaam under threat

The study, published last year, organized by the UK Department for International Development, with the participation of local and foreign scientists, devoted to studying the influence of sea level rise on coastal areas of East Africa. Research "Economics of climate change in Tanzania" calls for joined efforts in the prevention of coastal disasters caused by rising sea levels.

"In coastal areas of Tanzania a significant portion of the population. This region of the country is of great economic importance, and is an integral part of the local ecosystem, "- says the study. Dar es Salaam, the economic capital of the country, where about eight percent of a hundred and forty thousand people and economic assets worth more than one hundred seventy (170) million are at risk. Moreover, the Government of Tanzania do not take measures to prevent the negative effects of climate change. Rise in water level, changes in the distribution of rainfall in the area, lack of food due to frequent flooding, depleted fisheries and coastal erosion threaten to transform life on the east coast of Africa in the struggle for survival, and possibly reduce the inhabited area in the region "- said the scientist University of Dar es Salaam Pius Yanda.

Contamination of fresh water

Loss of fresh water in the Pangani, as well as flooding of homes with salt water, is the biggest threat. People in the region are already experiencing a severe lack of drinking water. Specialist Environmental Mohammed Khamis said that the quantity and quality of fresh water has deteriorated. Due to rising water levels in the Indian Ocean, the salt water that gets into the Pangani River, penetrated deep into the country for eight kilometers. Moreover, many small rivers that flow into the Pangani, began to dry up, and filled only during the rainy season. Others are completely dry. In some parts of the region, where people extract fresh water from the springs, we found that many of them have become too salty, and the water is no longer safe to drink.

Translation: Ellen
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation


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