This photovoice essay documents some of the climate changes experienced in four Tanzanian communities—Mlingotini and Makurunge, Bagamoyo District, Coast Region, and Chekereni and Rau, Rural Moshi District, Kilimanjaro Region. Men and women of various ages and backgrounds in each of the four communities volunteered to photograph indicators of environmental change, including climate, from July 2010-2011 as part of a larger research initiative looking at anticipatory learning for climate change adaptation and resilience. During two separate follow-up interviews, these photographers chose 8-10 images they believed were important for sharing with neighbors, policy makers, aid agencies, climate researchers, and other communities. The words and images presented here come directly from the Tanzanian photographers. Locally important issues of food, water, and livelihood security, adaptation, local knowledge, governance, cooperation, and conflict echo community experiences globally, yet also highlight the uniqueness of Tanzanian situations and responses.
Husana Nishamu and Mwanahasha Wastana, Mlingotini
People want to know when the temperature increases or when we will have short rainfall. We say there are changes now but we don’t know how it will be in the future. Then people ask, “After you know there is climate change, so what? What do you do?” We want to know the changes and give awareness to people, so that we can help them adapt for the future. We share what we learn from measurements with the village office and anybody in the community that wants to know.
Monica Massao and Hassan Kiwia, Rau
It looked like it was going to rain. Later strong winds came and blew away the clouds before it could rain. Vuli [short rains] are expected at the beginning of December, when this photo was taken. We normally get dark, heavy clouds at this time. In the past, the trees prevented the winds from blowing the clouds away so we got rain. Now the trees are gone, and when the heavy clouds come the strong winds blow them away. Unless we plant trees, this will continue into the foreseeable future. Everyone in the community knows why they don’t get rain. There is overpopulation in Rau and the inheritance system promotes smaller and smaller plots. When youth inherit land, the first thing they do is cut the trees to raise money and to build a home. Then they do not replant.
Juvenali Kiwia and Theresia Temba, Rau
This tree, mkufi [Newtonia buchananii (Baker)], is a hardwood that was cut without permission. All hardwood trees belong to the state, so normally you need special permission to cut them. In the future, there will be a decrease in the water because the logging disturbed the spring and surrounding environment. Rain will not come because the trees have been cut. Illegal logging in Rau has changed rapidly. There is more harvesting now than 10 years ago. When people stopped growing coffee and the price of coffee dropped, more people started cutting trees. You can get a lot of money for harvesting a hardwood.
Elizabeti Brinadi and Krasti Kupeka, Chekereni
When you sleep inside at night, the corrugated metal roof makes it sound like there is a lot of rain. Then you check the gauge in the morning and see that not much fell. We have learned that even if the rain makes a lot of noise, it may not be much… We anticipate a drought and have experienced this monitoring, so we advise people to plant out their crops earlier. In the past, the first rains were for the grass to come out. Then farmers would plant. Now we tell people to plant early and take advantage of the first rain. This is not just research we are doing; this is for education of the community on how to adapt. We have had drought for 12 years here. There are small changes in the rains. Ten to twenty years ago there was enough rain because there were fewer people and there was forest.
Patrick Ndalechi and Halima Salehe, Chekereni
There are two types of farms in Chekereni –irrigated paddy and rainfed, raised-bed uplands. This water source is for the paddy, but pipes were brought in to transport water to the uplands because of the drought seven years ago. Village bylaw prevents the use of irrigation water for uplands. If a government official catches you stealing water it is a 50,000 Tsh fine. Water experts from the Lower Moshi Irrigation Project measure the amount of water available and then tell farmers here how much land can be used as irrigated farm – lately it has been 1-2 blocks for the village. But villagers don’t listen and farm 5-6 blocks. [Each block is several hectares.] Once farmers start taking water for upland fields there is no water available for the irrigated blocks. Many, many people steal water. Water irrigation is a big issue in Chekereni. People might kill for water. The land here is fertile, but we have no water.
Ubaya Maneno, Makurunge
Maasai people do not fetch water on their heads, instead they use donkeys to haul water. These people live far from the wells in Makurunge, so the picture is showing water scarcity. It was taken in July when there was no rain because it is the dry season. The availability of water used to change according to the seasons, but now water scarcity can come any time due to rainfall variability.
Asha Idy and Mwanahawa Kisimu, Mlingotini
After a rain, all the wells in Mlingotini fill slowly. This well [Bondemi] belongs to the village but the land surrounding the well was sold to a muzungo [foreign] investor. The investor prevents people from going on the land and restricts well use. The investor is responsible for this area but does not clean it or keep it clean.
Maneno Rajabu and Miraji Muhamed, Makurunge
These nomadic people are Barbeig from Manyara. They prefer to have huge land areas for keeping livestock so they come here looking for pasture and water. They have been coming now for almost 10 years. At first it was slow, only a few came. Now, many. There is conflict between the farmers and livestock keepers here because the livestock come near the crops and eat. When this happens both the farmer and herder come together with the village chair to resolve the problem. They must pay a fine equal to the crops destroyed. Farmers confiscate the cattle until the problem is resolved.
Patrick Ndalechi and Halima Salehe, Chekereni
This photograph shows the migration of livestock to Rau River village from Chekereni to graze and indicates drought. The environment in Rau River is very different from here. They have water, and therefore, pastures. Every morning the animals are moved to Rau River and then they are moved back to Chekereni in the evening. Rau River residents don’t like us grazing our animals there. However, we help each other in many ways so we negotiated this arrangement. Sometimes people in Rau River come to Chekereni to graze their animals after people harvest their crops. When Rau River harvests, we bring our animals there.
Monica Lyimo and Theobald Maro, Rau
During the dry season, both lowland and highland areas grow vegetable crops with irrigation water. However, in the rainy season it becomes too cold to grow these crops in the highlands. The photo show high production, but this production is due to irrigation. Here, irrigation is an adaptive strategy for drought. Even during Masika [long rains], if there is not enough rainfall we will irrigate. This photo indicates a drought year because that is the only time we irrigate. During a year with high rainfall we don’t produce many vegetables because of diseases. During the high rainfall season, if you decide to grow vegetables you need to buy pesticides. This costs too much money and it is not good for your health to eat vegetables grown with pesticides.
Maneno Rajabu and Miraji Muhamed, Makurunge
During the hot season, the students like to sit under the trees and read. It is too hot to sit in the classrooms. They find some shade and sit there to avoid the hot sun. The climate changes, but this was taken when it was very hot… late December. They don’t even like to play football in the heat. This is the advantage of having lots of trees. The students appreciate those who planted these trees in the past because now water scarcity prevents tree planting.
Pilli Juliusi and Wambela Rajabu, Makurunge
The cassava here is very healthy… an indicator of a good year. Rainfall was very high. Last year was not like this. Production was lower. In 2007, we had drought. There was no production except for people growing in paddies… we diversified our livelihoods. Men made charcoal and cut timber for lumber. The women made mats to sell along the road between Bagamoyo and Msata. This gave us income to buy food.
Shabani Ibrahim and Musa Mfaume, Mlingotini
This photo shows many fish: pono, chaa, kole kole, tasi. The fish were caught during the time of the kaskasi [north wind]… the season of high catch. Ten years ago, kaskasi came only in March, now it comes in June. During kaskasi, the fishermen get a lot of money because they are catching a lot of fish. It was difficult to fish at this time because of the strong wind, but Mlingotini has mangroves which block the winds. The Bagamoyo fishers don’t come into the lagoon or fish our waters. Therefore, when we take our fish to market we get higher prices.
Mjaka Chamwamba and Munyamisa Ohmari, Mlingotini
The farmer here grew rice paddy late so his production was low even though the rainfall was good. He planted late because of rainfall variability. The previous year he planted early but the rains didn’t come on time… the late planters benefitted. This year he decided to plant late, but the rains came early. He doesn’t want to farm again. Many farmers have just given up. Even I [Mjaka] plant rice in Trombero [150 km distant]. I have relatives there who, with hired help, watch the crops. The paddy in the picture belongs to my brother. He doesn’t want to go to Trombero to grow crops.
Many thanks go to Petra Tschakert and the ALCCAR research team, especially Jen Spinelli and Maureen Biermann (Geography, Pennsylvania State U), Anselm Silayo (Institute of Resource Assessment, U Dar-es-Salaam), and Neema Masombo and Lucy Swai (Tanzania Red Cross/Red Crescent Society), for their extensive field assistance on this project. This postdoctoral research was funded by the Earth & Environmental Systems Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Pennsylvania State University.
Sarah Strauss is the contributing editor of Changing the Atmosphere, the AN column of the AAA Global Climate Change Task Force.