Challenges in the community
According to research conducted in the country, about 50% of the people’s income is derived from the environment. The Tanzanian government is hoping to work together with the NGOs such as Heritage Initiative to actively to conserve the environment.
Kagera region is facing several environmental issues. Natural resources are overused, polluted or destroyed. The present situation can be described as followed:
· Air: The lack of a central sewerage system means foul waste disposal – septic tank and cesspool, which get full and later emptied into the streets where there is no cesspit emptier. However, lack of major industries, though not an advantage, makes Bukoba a safer place to live in since there is minimal if any air pollution.
· Ground water aquifers: The town has protected groundwater in a number of wells & springs. These provide water for domestic consumption to areas without piped water. Rural-urban migration is increasing and therefore, the amount of water is inadequate to supply the continued demand. This means that people result to using river water, which is highly polluted, for the domestic consumption.
· Surface water: Not all areas with piped water get enough supply and the demand far surpasses the capacity to supply.
· Mineral resources: Bukoba has no mineral resources apart from rock and sand which are used for the construction of buildings. The mining of the two brings about degradation of land and disruption of biodiversity.
· Forest and natural vegetation: Natural forests have been depleted in Bukoba. The existing forest is also in danger of depletion due to cultivation going on in the forest. However, there are some man-made forests which are owned by individuals. These are mostly used for building materials i.e. poles and timber.
At present the situation of some of the natural recourses is declining rapidly. Kagera region is facing several serious environmental hazards:
· Flooding: Large areas of housing and informal settlements get flooded – those that are built on low-lying areas – erosion and spread of water-borne diseases escalation.
· Sanitation: Residents live in areas where social services are not accessible. Sewerage services are poor; lack of equipment and vehicles – this makes the management of solid waste unmanageable. The result of the poor sanitation is the breaking out of endemic diseases.
· Deforestation: This is because the land is cleared for agricultural use, fuel and building materials. Therefore, soil erosion, loss of nutrients in the soil, drying up of water resources, and loss of indigenous trees have increased. Environmental degradation has resulted.
· Pollution: Originates from different sources due to urban development e.g. burning of solid waste or foul smell from the abattoir. This leads to air pollution. Water pollution and land pollution are caused by direct discharge of liquid waste on open land and streets and continuous use of pesticides on plants.
Heritage Initiative, being an organization which is out to work with the government and other organizations such as ECOVIC for the welfare of the community, is focusing on the millennium goals which include the environment.