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Climate Change Adaptation in Tanzania’s Coastal Villages

Climate stresses in Tanzania’s coastal villages include sea level rise, sea water temperature increases, increased frequency and intensity of storms, salt water intrusion, shifts in bi-modal and uni-modal rainfall patterns, coastal and river flooding, and changes in river flow patterns. Potential impacts on natural resource based livelihoods such as shellfish cultivation and seaweed farming.

Adaptation challenge

Villages face multiple hazards and vary in their adaptive capacity. Some adaptation measures can be implemented directly at the village level with limited assistance, for example improving agricultural practices to improve food security. Others require negotiation with institutions as well as costly infrastructure that are far beyond the means of the community, such as potable water or irrigation systems. Non-climate stressors can substantially compound difficulties faced at the village level.

Adaptation outcomes

Kitonga Village decided to pursue agricultural early actions aimed at increasing food security, including planting mango trees and seeking assistance to improve rain-fed rice production. Mlingotini Village on the coast has pursued bee-keeping and mangrove conservation efforts to keep this naturally protective forest cover in place along beaches that otherwise could erode. Paje and Jambiani Villages in the east coast of Zanzibar’s Unguja Island are pursuing natural methods to stabilize shorelines such as planting ipomoea as a ground cover.

Learning outcomes

Villages benefit from continuous engagement in a variety of issues, as well as reassurance that there will be follow-through on any planning exercise that is initiated. The use of rapid participatory rural appraisal techniques can be useful, but not if it is simply a one-time meeting with no follow-up or early actions.

Key messages

Villagers are often well aware of climate impacts on their lives even when it is difficult to sort out causality in the changing patterns. Adaptive capacity can vary considerably from place to place, and overall vulnerability may be driven by an intricate set of social relationships, economic problems as well as physical exposure and sensitivity. Sensible, no-regrets early actions are highly beneficial and should accompany any assessment process. Some changes needed to reduce vulnerability may meet social resistance or be so costly that other institutions and funding sources are required.

Contact information

Jairos Mahenge, Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership [email protected]

Donald Robadue, Jr. Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island [email protected]

Wilbard Mkama, Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership, [email protected]

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