Dar es Salaam. Deputy Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government Dr Charles Msonde on Wednesday emphasized the need for planting more trees in Dar es Salaam in an attempt to make the city climate resilient for the benefit of its dwellers.
Dr Msonde was speaking during the Greening Infrastructure for the Future of Dar es Salaam Workshop, a two-day function jointly organised by the government and the Word Bank to explore how infrastructure and development can be adapted to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
In his official opening remarks, Dr Msonde named Dar es Salaam as an example of a city known for its rapid and unplanned growth, something he said has led to the loss of open space and urban vegetation.
“The city loses around 10 per cent of its tree’s a year, and just two per cent of its total area is designated as public green space, with only 0.1 per cent designated as a park,” Dr Msonde said during the workshop. “In the city’s core, there are fewer and fewer public spaces and green spaces that are mostly built of hard surfaces without any vegetation or tree canopy.”
The urban heat island effect and severe urban heat stress are being exacerbated by Dar es Salaam’s changing landscape, Dr Msonde explained.
“From the heart of the city to the outer outskirts, the mean daily surface temperature ranges by 3.60C,” he said. “Climate predictions for Dar es Salaam indicate that by 2040, the city will see more than the current 36 very hot days (above 34.6°C) and 100–200 very hot nights (above 24.5°C) annually.”
He added that the city’s increasing number of flood episodes is mostly caused by erosion and sedimentation, saying that the government was looking at greening as one of the avenues of achieving the climate resilience of Tanzania’s cities.
“Therefore, there is a need to collectively contribute to the mainstreaming of greening issues in all day-to-day programs of government and private actors,” Dr Msonde explained.
He called forests and trees crucial for reducing the effects of climate change, adding that one of the most crucial things people can do to improve the health of the environment is to plant trees.
“Our planet’s forests act as its lungs, taking up carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen,” he said. “The benefits of trees extend both globally and locally, enhancing our quality of life. In cities, trees clean the air by removing dangerous pollutants.”
Dar es Salaam is expected to become a mega city by 2030 with a population of over 10 million, a phenomenon that has resulted in rapid urbanization and development with large areas of the metropolitan area being built up with settlements and needed infrastructure.
The increase in the urban built-up area has also made Dar es Salaam hotter and reduced the ability of rainwater to replenish the groundwater used for water supply to a significant portion of the population.
Speaking during the workshop, World Bank Country Operations Manager Preeti Arora cited the international lender’s estimates that warn that climate change may push over 130 million people into poverty by 2030 and cause over 200 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050.
“Investing in adaptation to the changes in climate to help countries and companies become more resilient is therefore critical,” Arora explained. “Dar es Salaam is no exception with changes in temperature increasing the number of hot days, and changes in rainfall affecting both flooding and causing water shortages.”