Farmer John Musa from Dodoma has to find new areas for his livestock due to higher temperatures, causing many concerns

by Ngalima Albasheer, Ng’walu Chopeta, Ray Kiliho, and Namyaki Mollel

The Dodoma region lies in the heart of Tanzania in the eastern-central part of the country about 300 miles from the coast, it is also the largest city and capital of Tanzania. In the early 19th century it began as a small Gogo village. The German colonists formally established the city in 1907 during the construction of the Tanzanian central railway.

Dodoma is the capital city of Tanzania. It is a region located at the center of Tanzania,due to its geographical location it opens doors to many economic and social opportunities. Being at the center of Tanzania, it is easily accessible from all regions around Tanzania and neighbouring countries. For example from Dar es Salaam it is only 304 miles. Though it is a landlocked region, it facilitates its trading activities with the aid of the Dar es Salaam port but efforts have been made to construct a dry port.

The Dodoma region is famously known for being the origin of pastoralists and many livestock. It can also be said that livestock keeping is one of its main sources of economic activity. A total of 300 cows and 200 sheep and goats are slaughtered every day at the slaughterhouse located in Dodoma.

John Musa And His Livestock

John Musa lives in Dodoma, he is actually a native from Dodoma as generations and generations of his forefathers have lived there. He owns 20 cows and 15 goats, his forefathers used to own nearly 2000 cows but they were persuaded to sell them to businessmen that went to Comoro islands and Arabic regions like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

He says that livestock keeping is a very good business, for instance one cow, if well fed, can produce up to twenty-four liters per day of milk, this is equivalent to 50,000 Tshs. This money can provide the basic needs of his family and also take care of the cow’s expenses. For the livestock to have such high economic value they need to be well fed, and pastures have now become an issue of concern. 

John does outdoor grazing, but it has started to be a challenge for him and his livestock and he is forced to go to areas further from his home to get pastures for them. The pastures that used to grow around his neighbourhood have dried due to the increasing temperatures and only grow in the rainy season.

Clashing Issues With Neighbors

On his search for pastures for his livestock, he meets with other villagers who have grown crops for their subsistence. His livestock do not understand that the crops are not for them and they end up feeding on those crops. This has resulted in conflicts between him and the villagers, as the villagers depend on those crops for their survival. The disappearance of green pastures is also caused by the pastures available not being sufficient for the needs of the increasing livestock numbers and overgrazing.

The search for pastures also causes a strain to his family as he is forced to leave his family and walk long distances. During tough times the older male children are forced to accompany their father on his work, which makes them miss out on school hours. For those who are left home, they have to look for a way to search for another income-generating activity.

Despite the potential livestock resources available in Tanzania, the sector contributes only 6.9% which is very little to economic growth. This sector is facing a lot of challenges including livestock theft, diseases, land conflicts, illegal trade of livestock and livestock products.

How To Deal With These Challenges

In most cases livestock is handed in locales with less effectively developed knowledge to reduce the incidence of diseases. In Tanzania the most common disease is the pink eye, the bacterial inflammation of the conjunctiva of beef cattle caused by a bacterium species Moraxella bovis, which is transmitted by domestic flies. The disease is mostly seen during summer. The clinical signs include pink eye, lacrimation, tearing, irritation in eyes, loss of body weight and may lead to permanent blindness. Cattle with such conditions are covered up with a small piece of cloth across the infected eye up to its recovery.

In order to deal with these challenges there have been projects aimed to overcome this like Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Rural Resilience EBARR in Tanzania. In this project one of its activities include starting farms for grass cultivation that will provide pastures for livestock. Not only that but also provide alternative income generating activities to those communities affected by climate change.

This article is part of a series written in collaboration with Vijana Think Tank to expand the climate narrative.

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