- Mar 10, 2006
Tanzania: Zanzibar And Mafia to Disappear in 100 Years?
Scientists believe that the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia are likely to disappear under water by 2100 due to a rise in sea level triggered by global warming.
The islands off the Tanzania Mainland coast could be submerged in the ocean following a catastrophic rise in the sea level caused by the meting of polar ice.
Scientists revealed this startling information in Arusha during the official launch of the International Year of Planet Earth for Africa and a conference that followed.
They said the scenario was "very possible" because there were known cases of islands in the country which had since disappeared or were in danger of being submerged.
This means that Tanzania could be among countries that would be hardest hot by climate change, a phenomenon associated with global warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases.
Islands known to have been submerged include Maziwi, near Pangani in Tanga Region, and Fungu la Nyani, on the Rufiji River estuary.
Other gravely threatened sites are Ras Nungwi, at the northern tip of Zanzibar island, which has lost almost 100 metres of its beach to sea water, and Bongoyo and Mbudya islands near Dar es Salaam.
Mr Eric Mugurusi, the director of Environment Division in the Vice-President's Office, says Tanzania has already started to feel the impact of climate change, and gave the example of the melting of the snowcap on Mt Kilimanjaro.
The experts meeting in Arusha were of the opinion that only "bold measures" could save Zanzibar and Mafia islands, which are among the leading tourist sites in the country.
"This period is not a long time at all especially for people who care much about the future of their grandchildren.
That would depend on how we address global warming and climate change," warned one of them.
Increased emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides, have been blamed as being the major causes of global warming.
Many local experts said they were concerned about predictions that Zanzibar and Mafia islands could disappear in a 100 years' time, but said they were not entirely surprised.
Experts from the Zanzibar-based Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam said the rising sea level posed grave danger to the economy of Zanzibar and coastal areas on the mainland.
"Our concern is not what would happen in 2100, but the gradual rise of sea level taking place now," said a marine scientist who cited tourism, fisheries and mariculture as the economic sectors that would suffer most.
Mariculture such as seaweed farming is an important economic activity with a production of over 7,000 tonnes per year.
The impact of sea level rise will be big because more that 25 per cent of Tanzania's population is found along the coast.
It could not be established if the Maziwi and other islands which have disappeared were inhabited in the past.
The Government stopped setting up settlements in the Bongoyo and Mbudya islands in the early 1990s, but they remain leading tourist attractions.
Mr Mugurusi said evidence showing that the icecap on Mt Kilimanjaro was receding was enough indication that climate change was impacting on the country's natural resource base.
Scientists say the icecap volume on Africa's highest mountain has dropped by 80 per cent in the last 100 years; from 12.1 square kilometres in 1901 to only 2.2 square kilometres in 2000.
The loss, he said quoting experts, was most disturbing from 1970.
Some scientists have predicted that the mountain may lose all its ice in 20 years' time given the rate at which it is depreciating.
Mr Carlos Mbuta, a senior environmental management officer with the National Environment Management Council has, however, that there were other factors behind the sea level rise.
He said NEMC had studied the situation on Bongoyo and Mbudya islands between 1988 to 2000 and found that their sizes had been reduced largely by strong wave action.
On the Mt Kilimanjaro glaciers, the official explained that research carried out for 15 years by a German scientist indicated that out of every 1,000 tonnes of water from the mountain, 400 tonnes originated directly from the ice caps and the rest from the forest belt.
My Twisted Take:
Labda ikifika miaka kama 90 kuanzia sasa hivi basi muungano tunaweza kuuvunja kiurahisi tu. I don't know.