Analysis of Climate Variability, Perceptions and Coping Strategies of Tanzanian Coastal Forest Dependent Communities

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Climate variability and change are among the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Like in many other areas globally, the coastal communities of Tanzania have always been facing climatic varia- bility at various time scales. Using focus group discussion and a household survey, this study ana- lyzes the perceptions of climate variability and change and the strategies for coping and adapta- tion by the selected coastal rural and peri-urban communities in Tanzania.

The perception of climate variability and change is complemented with the time-series analysis of rainfall and tem- perature data from Julius Nyerere International Airport Met. station and Kisarawe using Instant Statistical Software. Results indicate that households are aware of climate variability and identify indicators of climate change and variability as being decreasing rainfall trends, increasing inci- dences of droughts, unpredictable rainfall patterns, disappearance of wetlands and failure to pre- dict on-set of rainy season using traditional knowledge. Households primarily attribute reduced crop yields to changes in rainfall pattern and increasing incidences of drought leading to soil moisture stress. The implications are that the agriculture dependent households are now food in- secure.

As a way of coping to the observed changes, the coastal communities among others have shifted to production of high value horticultural crops and use of forest resources. Nevertheless, the increased use of forest resources is threatening the existence of coastal forests and contri- butes to the decline of forest resources and disappearance of wildlife in the forest reserves. It is concluded that the communities studied are aware of climate issues as revealed from perceived indicators of climate variability and changes. The results from statistical analysis of 30 years cli- matic data are consistent with community's perception of climate variability and change. 

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