Name ID 148

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Koponen, Juhani Population: A Dependent Variable
Extract Date: 1890's


In 1892-3 the rains were sparser than usual on the coast and in some parts of the interior and, in three successive years from 1897 to 1899 the rains were particularly poor. The Locusts plagues coincided with the years of Drought. In 1893-5, they destroyed the harvest in the greater part of the country and in 1897-9 the same thing happened again.

Extract ID: 209

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Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19f
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul


Long before the sun rises, Tracy Robb and I have left camp to prepare her balloon. The clients arrive and we are airborne drifting across the Serengeti. From up here, the Serengeti comes alive. It is covered with animals. On the ground, the wind is from the south, and as we increase in altitude the wind comes from the east. The higher we go the more we turn to the left. This is how she steers. In the northern hemisphere it is the opposite; you will turn to the right with height. Tracy is from South Africa, and ballooning is her passion. I find my eyes are fixed to the ground as we drift along. The wildlife below is looking up at us, not knowing whether to watch or run as we pass.

Back on the ground, I am starting to notice that there are more female researchers than male researchers here. I feel a little bit like a Thompson's gazelle surrounded by cheetahs, and I am not sure that I am very comfortable about it. This surprises me, because I would have imagined that I wouldn't mind the attention, but this is different. I think males naturally like to hunt their prey or their mates, but they aren't so keen to have it the other way around. I find myself trying to avoid places and situations where I might be hunted. This is certainly a new experience for me, and I soon find security with John wildebeest.

John tells me that before the Drought of 1993, there were 1.6 million wildebeest. Now, there are .9 million. There are a quarter million zebra and a half million Thompson's gazelle. John conducts his research by putting grass on a one meter square platform sled and dragging it up to a group of gazelle. He doesn't stop his vehicle, so as not to frighten the gazelle, but he releases the sled. The idea is that the gazelle will then come up and feed off the sled. He can then compare the weight of the grass before and after they have fed. So far this hasn't worked, because the gazelle haven't fed of the platform, but John remains optimistic.

Late in the afternoon, I sit east of Seronera and watch the sun set over the horizon. After the sun goes down, the sky turns a brilliant red as the sun shines up on the base of the clouds. Normally, the sun sets quite quickly along the equator, but this red glow continues for a full 15 minutes as the surrounding darkness envelopes me. This is taking far too long. I study this until I become convinced that I have made a great discovery. The sun must surely be reflecting off of Lake Victoria like a mirror and bouncing back up into the sky. I cannot imagine any other explanation for what I am seeing, but unfortunately no one thinks this is possible.

Extract ID: 3661

See also

ELCA International Disaster Response--Tanzania
Extract Date: 1997 July 14


Like other Southern Sub-Saharan African countries, Tanzania has been facing serious Drought conditions which began in 1990, when the rains began to stray from their traditional pattern. In some areas, the rains have come too early or too late, while in some pockets they have simply been insufficient. This continued unreliability of rainfall has increased vulnerability in the Drought prone regions, districts and villages.

Current reports indicate that nearly 700,000 Tanzanians are facing acute food shortages due to the prolonged Drought and the figure is expected to rise further. Though there has been no report of loss of human life, the situation is getting worse and the rate of malnutrition severe. The rate of malnutrition among children under five is severe and there is evidence of children collapsing in classrooms as a result of hunger. In pastoralist areas all the communities who solely depend on the livestock sale, milk and meat products are affected regardless of age, gender or occupation. In farming communities it is mainly the poor who depend on annual and perennial crops which are severely affected.

With the situation worsening in 1997, various traditional coping mechanisms used before by the communities have now eroded to a minimal level as a result of cultural and economic transformation. The pastoralist movement in search of water and pasture has been restricted as a result of land allocation to big farms and wildlife conservation.

Cultivation of Drought-resistant crops (sorghum, millet and root crops) has now shifted into maize culture. In addition, in most of these Drought prone areas, subsistence farmers have lost traditional seed preservation knowledge and developed seasonal purchasing behavior. During prolonged Drought, purchasing power is low and they become dependent on external aid, which is erratic.

A total of 15 regions have been seriously affected by this year s Drought, with the level of severity varying from region to region In Pastoralists areas such as Monduli, Ngorongoro and Simanjiro, livestock conditions have improved, although many were lost as a result of extended Drought. In the crop producing areas, the crop condition is better in the lowland parts of Karatu, Arumeru, Mwanga and Rombo.

The current need is to supply seed, especially maize; provide transportation; rehabilitate water supply systems; and administer and monitor crops.

Drought, as a creeping disaster, takes time to cause damage. Deaths of livestock and wildlife have been reported. Water sources have dried up as a result of large herds of cattle, goats and sheep migrating to water points and people looking for water. Consequently, springs and wells have been overdrawn and the environment damaged.

Another Drought cycle is predicted for 1999-2004. The question now is whether this short-term relief phase is enough to regain normalcy, or whether more is required to link short-term action to a rehabilitation phase and, eventually, a long-term self-help support phase.

Contributions to ELCA International Disaster Response will help make Drought relief work in Tanzania possible.

Extract ID: 1433