Research Theme 5 - Natural Resources and Environment Management

Rich endowment in natural resources in Tanzania can be a double-edged sword that carries both blessings and curses. Tanzania is not immune to this dilemma. So it is vital that Tanzanian resources be harnessed for sustained contribution to production, income generation through rent and taxation, as well as a judicious balancing between consumption and investments to achieve good returns for capital, without forgetting the inter-generational equity of natural resource benefits. In this context, there should be no neglecting of continuous identification of new resources, which in the case of minerals or extractive industries, their exploration requires lots of capital investment.

The other aspect of natural resources is related to climatic changes and natural and man-made disasters that damage or deplete the resource base. ESRF’s research agenda therefore will focus on issues emanating from the escalating climate changes, resource scarcity and the lack of effective management of the natural resources.

In the long-term, national development goals also underline sustainable utilisation and management of the natural resources. Likewise, SDGs and the National Policy Frameworks underscore the vital role of natural resources in poverty reduction and the need to reflect on the perverse impact of climate change before and after it occurs.

The Foundation intends, through the MTSP, to contribute on meeting the above challenges. The matter demands long-term and sustained research as well as capacity building. Table3.5 shows three components or sub themes by which ESRF will make useful research contributions.

Sub-Theme 1: Climate Change and Environmental Management

Climate Change is an imminent challenge to the country’s development prospects and will remain so for many years to come. In this country, climate change effects are directly observable in the broad agricultural sector (including land resources, crop and livestock husbandry, fisheries, wildlife and forest resources), which is a vital base for macro economic performance and poverty reduction. ESRF will conduct sustained research and encourage policy dialogues on this important area. In collaboration with local and international institutions, it will focus on the following specific research areas:

    (a) Understanding the challenges and effects of climate change at national level and in specific localities;

    (b) Effects of climate variability on agriculture production in specific geographic locations; (c) Climate change and livelihood adaptation and mitigation;

    (d) Changes in weather patterns in different agro-ecological zones and their effects on performance of crops, livestock and fishery activities; and

    (e) Impact of climate change to marginalised communities.

Long-range measures to mitigate and/or cope with climate change effects on specific population clusters need to be kept in close view. New issues like international pressure for drastic conservation measures, trading in carbon credits, production of bio-fuels, etc. at the expense of peoples’ current welfare needs also to be addressed. ESRF will seek to compile an Annual Climate Change Impact Index (CCII) giving the status of statistics and/or visible impacts of climate change, provided it can team up with key relevant institutions in the country. This would have a powerful message if it could provide time contrasted pictures of climate change effects on specific locations such as forest coverage, lake and river water levels, crop yield trends, rising temperatures in specific locations, rainfall variability, etc.

Sub-Theme 2: Management of Natural Resources and Tourism

Green growth and good governance in natural resource exploitation is a crucial element to ensure that renewable and non-renewable resources are properly utilised so as to benefit current and future generations. The following research questions will therefore be the focus of ESRF:

    (a) Ensuring best practices (transparency) in the extraction and management of natural resources and especially mining;

    (b) Participation of local communities;

    (c) Vertical integration in tourism;

    (d) “Local Content” in tourism;

    (e) Job creation in the Tourism Sector

    (f) The impact of a growing human population on land, particularly on wetlands and water catchments, which also impacts on sustainable river bodies and power generation;

    (g) The relationship between growing human population and pressures on the use of natural resources and rural - urban migration;

    (h) Understanding and practicing green economic growth; and

    (i) Balancing the quest for conservation of tourist attraction areas and natural resources versus the needs of local communities.

Sub-Theme 3: Management of Natural Gas

Tanzania’s huge natural gas reserves (over 55 TCF) have attracted equally huge interests of potential investors and traders within and outside the country. A national gas consultation conference of 2013 convened by ESRF strongly urged that very careful planning for the use of this resource should be put in place in order to avoid squandering the resultant revenues. Thus, ESRF has repositioned itself to continue monitoring the development of the gas resource through research and to provide pertinent advice accordingly. The research will in effect also embrace other types of natural resources especially in the mining sector, but for the moment natural gas seems to dominate the national limelight. In this respect, a number of research issues will be pursued by ESRF and other concerned organisations, picking from following examples:

    (a) GOT preparedness to follow best practices in managing the gas economy in line with the set direction spelt out in the Natural Gas Act of 2013;

    (b) Gas Revenue Generation and its responsible distribution among competing stakeholders that, inter alia, include GOT and the communities in the gas producing or transit districts. GOT is particularly charged to assure effective management of the central gas revenue funds;

    (c) Local participation in Value Chain Activities of the gas industry downstream, midstream and upstream. In this regard also keeping in mind that participation in the LNG process requires more careful handling because of the huge costs entailed; and

    (d) Environmental Protection to safeguard communities hosting natural gas activities regarding their effect on the environment by current and past activities.

ESRFs activities are supported by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF),Think Tank Initiative of IDRC and The Foundation for Civil Society.