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17 - 24 October 2007 
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Environmental Degradation: Tanzania Calls for Concerted Efforts

Recently, unknown people set fire on Mugololo forest based in Iringa (Tanzania).The forest produces massive tonnes of timber and contributes immensely to paper manufacture in East and Central Africa. Within the same week, the same event happened at Ihefu valley in Mbeya – Tanzania.
Despite the fact that the government of Tanzania through the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) has been advocating for environmental preservation, most Tanzanians are doing the contrary.Tanzanians ought to understand that environmental degradation has negative consequences such as food shortage. Crops provide good yields depending on the availability of reliable rainfall, good irrigation and use of acceptable and quality manure, among other factors. Forests and bushes attract rainfall which is a key factor in supporting agricultural activities.
Sub Saharan Africa countries have fared poorly in food production over the last three decades. While the annual population growth has averaged 3 percent, that of food production has been 1.9 percent alongside growing chronic undernutrition. Eighty percent of Tanzanians are peasants. Agriculture depends more on climate, a result of good environment. In 2006, agriculture had a 44 percent contribution to the overall national revenue while other sectors combined contributed only 53 percent.

African people should support the campaign on environmental stewardship. African governments have set different programs to curb environmental degradation. The Tanzania government has included the issue of environment in the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) where different goals have been recommended towards environmental preservation. In so doing, the government is out to make sure that safe and clean water is provided to all Tanzanians by 2010. This will only be possible under a well preserved environment. In addition, according to NSGRP, all Tanzanians should be staying in modern buildings and well kept environment by 2010.
Poverty and environmental degradation are twins and their parent is ignorance.  The efforts made by the government and non governmental organisations are meaningless if the Tanzanians themselves will not take part in the fight against environmental degradation.

By Florence Mugarula
Mr. Mugarula holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Dar es salaam.

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