Tanzania loses around 2500 acres of forests every day with an estimated 61 percent of the country now facing a real threat of desertification, the government of Tanzania has warned.
According to Environment Minister January Makamba, the massive scale of destruction to the country’s environment means that many sources of water, mostly in rainforests, are being decimated.
"One of the biggest causes of deforestation is the widespread use of charcoal for cooking food," Makamba told a press conference ahead of World Environment Day which will be marked on June 5 under the theme: ‘Connecting People to Nature.’
The minister added: "As a result of this situation, water supply for Tanzanians is being constrained even when we build infrastructure for the supply of water."
"Charcoal is a big business in Tanzania and continues to flourish. More than 90 per cent of all families in the country either use firewood or charcoal as a source of energy."
"Rural electrification has gathered pace, but electricity cannot solve the people's energy needs due to the price factor. Natural gas has also been discovered in the country and has been used in power generation since 2014, but has not provided a solution for cooking energy."
He said the sale of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking purposes has been growing at a fast rate, but it still remains out of reach for most Tanzanians.
Makamba dismissed the myth that some types of food cannot be cooked by cooking gas, describing this as a key challenge for the broader use of LPG in the country.
"Despite being supplied with electricity in every street and having many points for selling cooking gas, Dar es Salaam consumes 60 per cent of all charcoal produced in the country," he noted, adding:
"There is a big demand for charcoal in major urban centres in the country and this demand continues to grow."
Makamba said this year's World Environment Day will be commemorated at the national level in Butiama village, Mara region - birthplace of the late Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere - to honour his legacy towards environment conservation.
The day will be marked by tree-planting campaigns across the country and public workshops to discuss the huge challenge facing the nation in terms of deforestation and environmental pollution.
On a global scale, scientific advances and growing environmental problems such as global warming in recent decades are helping countries to better understand how natural systems can support our own prosperity and well-being, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP says that billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil.
They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.
“We can enjoy nature year-round, but World Environment Day is when the whole world comes together to celebrate our beautiful planet,” said Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment.
“It reminds us of what a treasure nature is, an