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Evidencing location-specific climate change and its impact on river discharges in Songea District, Tanzania

Author: 
Michael J. Haule
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

Vast literatures have motioned and given details on the phenomenon climate change and its impact at the world scale, however, only a limited number of studies are based on location-specific data in providing immediate evidence on the existence and the impact of climate change on a particular geographical area. This paper, therefore, is an effort towards establishing the existence of climate change, its extent; and its impact on river discharges on a location specific context. The climate data collected at Songea Airport Weather Station were used in this study. Climate data analysis was linked to the status and variations in river discharge data collected at gauging stations located on the two main tributaries of the Ruvuma River, i.e. Likonde River and Ruvuma River originating from in proximity of Songea Airport Weather Station, only about 5 kilometres away. Drawing from the observed behaviors of the main variables of climate, i.e. temperature and rainfall, in terms of their variation with time it is concluded that climate of Songea District had changed. Furthermore, the changes and trends in the discharges characterized by a drastic decrease in flows demonstrated adverse impact of climate change on the river regime of the Ruvuma River, likely affecting people living along the long profile of the same river and its tributaries. Previous studies attributed such changes in climatic elements to rapid deforestation rate prompted by rapid human population growth. As climate change effects farming and other livelihood activities, its impact could likely have adversely affect human population hence underlining the causations. The two rivers are persistently affected as their flows are in a constant decrease through time. The study recommends for immediate collective action to address the challenges of climate change taking into account local conditions. Farmers are urged to comply to instructions given by Agricultural Extension Officers (AEOs) for higher crop output as growing conditions might have been altered by the observed climate change. Furthermore, it is urged that effective policy formulation for pragmatic engagement in forest conservation activities is necessary for ensuring moderation of climate and water resources at location-specific level.

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