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Climate Change Adaptation in Tanzania’s Coastal Villages

The Conservation of Coastal Eco-Systems in Tanzania: The PWANI Project

The Pwani (coast in kiswahili) Project builds on more than a decade of previous experience and investments of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island (URI), the Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership (TCMP), UZIKWASA, the Government of Tanzania, and other partners.

This ecosystem-based management initiative covers over 348 km of coastline in Bagamoyo, Pangani, and on Unguja in Zanzibar. The area includes the lower Wami River (3,270 km2), Saadani National Park, (1,114 km2, including a marine area of 60 km2), and the Menai Bay Conservation Area (almost 500 km2).

Cross-cutting in nature, it recognizes that poverty, gender, climate change, population, and HIV/AIDS can be significant constraints to conservation. It also recognizes that implementation of an ecosystem-based program must be directed at catalyzing changes in human behavior. As such, Pwani strengthens capacity at the local level to implement policy and to advocate for policy adjustments (good governance) and integrate poverty concerns into conservation strategies. The overall goal of the project is to sustain the flows of environmental goods and services; reverse the trend of environmental destruction of critical coastal habitats; and improve the well-being of coastal residents in our target areas. To implement Pwani, CRC-URI requested from USAID Tanzania US $3,800,000 over four years with URI and partners contributing a total of $577,061 in matching funds.

Objectives related to climate change adaptation

  1. Raise awareness of coastal vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the Pwani project area at the village and district level
  2. Identify climate change vulnerabilities and ways to increase resilience and reduce harm from climate change impacts
  3. Catalyze small, doable, adaptation actions
  4. Share good practices in coastal adaptation


Climate changes are already impacting coastal communities and the impacts are anticipated to intensify in the future, resulting in significant alteration of coastal and marine ecosystems, and increased coastal hazards in low-lying areas. They affect fishers, coastal communities and resource users, recreation and tourism, and coastal infrastructure. Experience shows that it is the poorest who are most dependent on natural resources for livelihoods and who are most exposed to climate hazards and changes affecting the environment. Yet, they are also the ones least equipped to deal with the consequences.

Practical measures for how to plan for and adapt to the impacts of these realities are included in a recently published USAID guide developed by CRC, “Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners”. TCMP Pwani emphasizes climate change vulnerability assessment of various assets, education and awareness, collaborating with local communities and other stakeholders in adaptation planning and implementation of small, doable adaptation actions. Prior to the Pwani Project, TCMP collaborated with TaTEDO on energy conservation for sustainable villages, businesses and families, and through its participation in the Water and Development Alliance, gained experience in the construction of rain-water harvesting in public facilities, including schools and health clinics, as well as tree nurseries and reforestation for both energy and food.

Progress to date

In Years One and Two of the Pwani Project, vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans (V&A) were completed in two villages in the Bagamoyo District and in Paje and Jambiani, which are located in the Southeastern section of the Unguja Island, Zanzibar. In each location, climate change working groups were formed, acting as the entry points for vulnerability assessment, education and awareness raising, adaptation planning, and implementation of small, doable adaptation actions. The first publication of the effort is Village Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning: Mlingotini and Kitonga, Bagamoyo District, Tanzania (2011) In addition, a rapid assessment of Mbegani Bay, the location of the Mlingotini V&A, was conducted to characterize and understand the dynamics of this critical marine ecosystem. In Year Three (2012), Pwani continues to assist the four villages with adaptation actions and monitor their effectiveness. At the same time, two new V&A efforts will begin in Pangani District, in villages to be selected in collaboration with the district authorities and village leaders.

For more information

The advances in climate change adaptation work in Tanzania are featured in a video prepared by the CRC URI international climate change program, “Climate Change Adaptation for Tanzania’s Coastal Villages”, which can be viewed here: More information can be obtained on the project’s website:

This project was selected to be a case study on using climate station information to aid adaptation planning and policy-making. You can read this work here.

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