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Fishy Business: Climate Change Changes Farmers Into Boatmen

Peasants in Manyara Region are ditching their previous agricultural occupations wading into fishing

Tanzania Times

Climate Change not only changes local weather patterns, in Manyara Region, climate change effects are also changing farmers to become boatmen and fishermen.

In Babati District of Manyara, Northern Tanzania, it has been discovered that the two neighboring Lakes of Burunge and Manyara currently suffer from massive influx of fishermen.

Many of the boatmen and women, paddling canoes with fishing rods and nets in tow, happen to be new entries in the trade.

Most fishermen and women apparently ditched their previous land tilling occupation due to mostly drought.

Benson Mwaise, the Secretary of Burunge Wildlife Management Area in Babati Rural, says, there have been two excessive spells of weather in the area, all contributing to the destruction of crops and farming areas.

“First we experienced torrential rains that flooded most farms and grazing areas, forcing wild animals to invade households and destroying crops in nearby farms,” revealed Mwaise.

As it happens farms were destroyed by excessive rains that submerged a number of farms and human settlements in most parts of Babati and Monduli Districts of Arusha and Manyara, Regions.

Human-Wildlife conflict episodes ensued on that animals’ grazing area were submerges displacing the species that were driven to seek new abodes and pastures in farms and residential areas.

When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing

Local leaders in the precinct added that after the destructive rains there followed serious dry spells, which means it was no longer possible to farm, therefore most farmers decided to try their hands in fishing.

“It is not just local farmers from nearby villages, but of late we have been experiencing aliens from other districts, far off regions and even from neighboring countries coming to fish from the lakes,” explains Hamisi Gyori of the Chem-Chem Association.

As a result, the two lakes are suffering from serious cases of pollution because fishermen from far-off lands do not adhere to the set guidelines of conducting such activities in and around the water bodies.

Lakes Burunge and Manyara, are on the receiving end of Tarangire River, though some small streams also empty into the water bodies.

Representatives of various media outlets, members of the Environment Journalists Association of Tanzania recently visited the Burunge WMA which operates within the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor linking Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks.

The journalists’ environment study trip was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the ‘Tuhifadhi Maliasili,’ project.

Tuhifadhi Maliasili project addresses some of the key drivers and associated threats to improve conservation in Tanzania, particularly in six important wildlife corridors.

The wildlife passageways include Amani-Nilo, Kwakuchinja, Nyerere Selous-Udzungwa, Kigosi Moyowosi-Uvinza, Tarangire-Simanjiro Plains, and Pemba Channel Conservation Area (PECCA).

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