Environment Field Note: Climate

The environment is important to Tanzanians. Where a Tanzanian lives had a relationship to a lot of things such as what they eat, how they travel, and even what they do for work.

One of my favorite parts about Tanzania is the country’s environment. It’s beautiful! Some of my favorite sights include Ngorongoro Crater and the Uluguru Mountains. Look for pictures! Can you think of any scenes in nature you might like to see one day?

How are people connected to the environment?

Food is one of the biggest ways Tanzanians are connected to their environment. Almost every home outside of cities has a garden. Passing through the Tanzanian countryside on my way to Zambia, I remember seeing lots of corn, sunflowers, and bananas growing next to homes.

Although many Tanzanians grow food for themselves to eat, it’s also very common to grow food for a living. I always see food stands by the sides of the road selling things like tomatoes, avocadoes, and oranges. One of my favorite things to buy is called mahindi or cooked corn with salt, chili, and lime on top!

Depending on where you live in Tanzania, the food you grow will be different. In the northwestern region of the country, the climate is cooler and mountainous, so many people grow bananas. The city of Dar Es Salaam does not have a lot of land to grow food but it is next to the ocean, so Tanzanians here eat a lot of fish.

What makes this environment special or different?

Tanzania’s environment is special for a lot of different reasons. First, because Tanzania is such a big country, there are many different kinds of environments inside it. In the northwest, the land is more mountainous and cold. The farthest northern parts are home to the Serengeti, a huge plain filled with lots of wildlife. Finally, land near the coast is more flat and hot.

Tanzania also holds many special natural sights. Mount Kilimanjaro in the north stands a little over 19,000 feet tall and is the highest peak in Africa! The Ngorongoro Crater is also neat because it is huge and inside you can find tons of wild animals like lions, zebra, giraffes, and rhinos.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

Tanzanians are dependent on the environment for their energy. Most Tanzanians do not have electricity so instead they burn wood to cook their food. This wood is often cut down locally so it is fortunate that many parts of Tanzania have forests.

Much of the electricity that Tanzania does have is generated from hydro-power or water. However, it is not always reliable. Sometimes when I am on campus and the electricity comes back on after a shortage, you can hear everyone yell with excitement!

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

Because many Tanzanians grow food for a living, it is important that there is enough rain. In some recent years, Tanzania has had a drought and not enough rain has fallen during the rainy season. This is bad because it means some Tanzanians will have trouble making enough money and getting enough food.

Another huge problem environmental problem in Tanzania is the shortage of clean drinking water. Although some Tanzanians can afford clean bottled water, others cannot. This means they may drink from streams that carry dirty or diseased water.

Because water shortages are common, even in the city, it’s popular to see huge water tanks that store water for when running water isn’t available or working. I’ve included a picture of one that sits right in my hallway. Plenty of times I’ve had to go fetch water from them to take a shower or wash my clothes.

How have people been adapting to this environment?

You can really tell how Tanzanians have adapted to the environment when you look at their homes. Depending on where someone lives, their home will be made of materials from that area. In some regions this means mud. In other regions it means rocks and straw.

In Dar Es Salaam the weather is always pretty hot. To stay cool, many buildings in the city are open to the outside so that air can come in and keep people cool. Like I’ve mentioned before, the walls of the building where I live have huge holes so there’s always a breeze!

Finally, I want to leave you with something funny. Tanzanians never experience winter cold like we do in the United States. Still, sometimes they think that it is cold when to me, it’s still pretty warm. I remember one morning I woke up to go into town early and it was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This is like a warm spring day in the United States. To my surprise everyone outside was wearing huge puffy winter coats! They thought it was freezing! I laughed so hard at the sight of everyone.

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