In Extreme Weather Events, Community-Driven Solutions Should be Our Top Priority

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Tanzania has been experiencing extreme weather events in several regions for almost months. The possibilities are multifaceted and far-reaching. Heavy rainfall, a recurring phenomenon in the country, often triggers flash floods and landslides, causing widespread destruction of infrastructure, homes, and agricultural lands and death, displacing people from their homes.

While the disaster continues to happen frequently, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) warns that more downpours should be expected, cautioning about potential flooding in certain areas and disruptions to economic activities.

In October, the weather Authority mentioned receiving the rains that were expected to be caused by El Niño in several regions such as Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu in the south; Kigoma in the north; Dar es Salaam; Tanga; Pwani (including the Mafia Islands); the north of Morogoro; and the islands of Unguja and Pemba.

Regions like Mara and Simiyu in the north, Arusha, Manyara, and Kilimanjaro are expected to receive moderate to above-average rains. However, TMA has also warned that some areas have a risk of flooding.

Case Studies of Some Regions Affected

Since the beginning of November, torrential downpours have wreaked havoc across Tanzania, unleashing a torrent of destruction that has left communities reeling. The incessant rains have triggered devastating floods, submerging homes, severing transportation routes, and, tragically, claiming precious lives.

In Arusha, at least ten people died, leaving 90 other households displaced following a seven-hour deluge, with infrastructure like bridges and roads damaged.

According to Arusha District Commissioner Mr Felician Mtahengerwa was giving an on the effects of the downpour in the region, including Muriet, Terrat, Elerai, and Morombo, quoted in the Daily News report saying: “Many households have been affected by the rains, and we are still figuring out how to help the homeless.”

Several bridges connecting Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, to its suburbs were washed away, leading to severe traffic congestion and significant disruptions to residents’ daily lives.

Among the damaged infrastructure is the Jangwani Bridge, a construction prone to flooding. Quoted from Mwananchi communication, “We residents of Bondeni cannot go out because we are afraid that our houses will be flooded and cause damage,” said Khadija Ali, a resident of Kawe Mnarani.

Another said, “I have been carrying sand to the houses there since morning. I walk carefully here for fear of falling. I get money, but I am risking my life. The government needs to evacuate these people who live in these dangerous places,” said Kazikazi.

In Bukoba, one person was killed by a collapsing wall at Rwamishenye Ward, while about 106 houses were unroofed. Also, Muleba District Commissioner Dr Abel Nyamahanga reported that heavy rains accompanied by strong winds pounded Karambi Ward, where over 150 homes were unroofed.

More than 150 people were left homeless after heavy rains demolished 30 houses in Kalambo district in the Rukwa region in Tanzania’s southern highlands.

According to Makame Khatib, the Director of the Disaster Management Commission of Zanzibar, the ongoing rains in Zanzibar have caused 2,440 families to lose their homes after the rains flooded their houses.

Government Initiative

Despite heavy rainfall in several regions, the government continues with various strategies for mitigating climate change, providing warnings to the citizens and building bridges and water ditches.

This newest incident led Samia Suluhu Hassan to immediately redesign the eagerly-awaited Jangwani Bridge Project, which is expected to end chronic floods in the area.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan has instructed three ministries to collaborate with the World Bank to redesign the Jangwani Bridge Project in response to the ongoing flooding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This redesign aims to enhance the project’s resilience and permanently eliminate flooding in the region.

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Chalamila asked the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), Tanesco, and Tarura to sit with the Dar es Salaam city director’s team to see what can be done. Since the area also passes the infrastructure under TPDC and Tanesco, they must be involved before anything can be done.

Also, the Minister of State, President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Governments (PO-RALG), Mr. Mohamed Mchengerwa, asked the Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners to leave their offices and inspect and assist the people in their areas during the rainy season.

Quote in the Daily News: “I am ordering all Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners to leave their offices and visit the people during this rainy season,” said Mchengerwa.

Mchengerwa also directed the Chief Executive of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) and the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency to work together to improve the infrastructure.

Mbeya Regional Commissioner Juma Homera asked the citizens living in dangerous areas and valleys to evacuate before floods hit them following TMA’s forecast.

Community-driven Solutions

Community-Based Early Warning Systems: One of the most effective community-driven solutions is the development of early warning systems. These systems use local knowledge and resources to provide communities with timely and accurate information about impending weather hazards. This information allows communities to take preventative measures, such as evacuating from flood-prone areas or storing food and water in anticipation of drought.

Climate-Smart Agriculture Practices: Another essential community-driven solution is adopting climate-smart agriculture practices. These practices help farmers to increase their productivity and resilience in the face of climate change. Examples of climate-smart agriculture practices include using drought-resistant crops, implementing water conservation techniques, and diversifying income sources.

Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction: Community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) is essential to building resilience to climate change. CBDRR involves communities in all aspects of disaster risk management, from planning and preparedness to response and recovery. This approach helps ensure that communities can effectively manage the risks of extreme weather events.

Our Take on Effective Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies

Strengthen Early Warning Systems: To continue robust early warning systems that provide timely and accurate information about impending extreme weather events. This will enable communities to take precautionary measures and minimize losses.

 Enhance Disaster Preparedness Planning: Develop comprehensive disaster preparedness plans at the national and local levels. These plans should include evacuation protocols, emergency response mechanisms, and resource allocation strategies.

Promote Community Resilience Building: Empower communities to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events. This can be achieved through education, training, and the provision of resources to support sustainable livelihoods and infrastructure development.

Invest in Climate-Resilient Infrastructure: Design and construct infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of extreme weather events. This includes roads, bridges, buildings, and water systems.

Promote Sustainable Land Management Practices: Adopt sustainable land management practices, such as afforestation, reforestation, and soil conservation techniques, to reduce vulnerability to droughts and floods.

Embrace Climate-Smart Agriculture: Encourage adopting climate-smart agriculture practices, such as drought-resistant crops, water-efficient irrigation systems, and diversified farming techniques, to enhance agricultural resilience.

Strengthen International Collaboration: Foster international cooperation and knowledge sharing on mitigation and adaptation strategies for extreme weather events. This will enable Tanzania to learn from the experiences of other countries and access advanced technologies and expertise.

Tanzania’s journey towards resilience against extreme weather events is a continuous process that requires a holistic approach. By integrating disaster risk management into development strategies, investing in early warning systems, and promoting sustainable practices, Tanzania can build a more resilient future for its communities and ecosystems.

A digital personnel and Content Producer who has made a significant impact on media outlets with his exceptional writing skills. He is passionate about creating informative content and conducting research. Salvius obtained his degree in Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, where he gained valuable experience through internships at Mwananchi Communication Newspaper. Salvius worked as a news editor and article reviewer at Scooper, also The south African website as the article writer, further refining his skills. Salvius's outstanding work in the field of digital journalism was recognized by Reuters which awarded him a digital journalism certificate. Salvius also is an environmental influence.

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