Take a look at the above photo. What comes to mind? Wetlands? ordinary farming activities?
Well the photo is showcasing the people of Kengeja Community in Pemba, Tanzania planting mangrove trees as a means to reduce salt water intrusion in their farms. You might be asking yourself how did salt water invade farms in the first place and how is that a threat? you guessed it right, it is all a result of climate change.
Salt water intrusion is the movement of saline sea water into coastal lands and fresh water sources which are in proximity to the ocean. The act is facilitated by climate change either directly or indirectly. The direct cause is through the rise in sea levels due to expansion of water particles which is brought about by abnormal temperature rise. While the indirect cause is through the increase of drilling or pumping of coastal underground freshwater, might be for creation of wells or boreholes. These actions lead to an imbalance in the water pressure between the sea and underground water, hence making salt water invade the coastal areas.
Salt water intrusion affects the world differently. It is evident to coastal communities in Pemba where its impacts cut across fresh water availability, crop growth, productivity and quality of crops produced without forgetting the livelihood of farmers. Most of the people in Kengeja practice subsistence farming, to them it is the main source of food and income. When salt water invades, crop growth and productivity is affected due to the presence of traces of salt in the water which enters the farms. The action subsequently leads to a greater risk of food insecurities, furthermore low productivity leaves farmers with low earnings. Collectively all these escalates vulnerability to coastal communities.
If we are to tackle saltwater intrusion, climate action must be taken. Everyone has a role to play in our communities. It starts with the simplest things that we can all adopt. From spreading a word about the impact of climate change to being mindful of our daily activities at home or in the working environment. Making sure we create proper habits to adapt to climate change impacts like proper usage of water, planting trees and saying no to cutting trees. Apart from that, raising awareness about the importance of using clean energy, reducing the use of plastic materials and preserving our environment.
The United Nations Association of Tanzania is at the forefront of climate mitigation. We worked hand in hand with the people of Kengeja community in Pemba to plant mangrove trees in order to reduce salt water intrusion. UNA Tanzania engaged different age groups in this project while putting a particular priority in youth and women participation due to their influence. Climate dialogues were conducted to know the level of community understanding on climate action. Community sensitization on the adverse effects of climate change and adaptation measures were advocated. However, this is not enough. We therefore make a call upon everyone reading this article to be an agent for change. The climate change nightmare is not to be left in the hands of governments only. It is everyone’s battle, Play your part now!