Community-based adaptation action planning in northern Tanzania

March 2015: The CHIESA project, led by icipe, is working across East Africa to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. Project coordinator Tino Johansson writes about their work in the Pangani River basin, in the Mt Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania:


Landscape level adaptation plans which integrate water and land use management are critical to maintain water security and ecosystem functionality and to respond to the impacts of climate change in a given locality. In the Pangani river basin in northern Tanzania, the Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa (CHIESA) project is working with local communities and stakeholders to develop a community-based climate change adaptation action plan for the Miwaleni springs.

Mount Kilimanjaro is an important “water tower” as its glacial melt and rainfall on its forest belt supplies most of the fresh water for this important river basin. Glacial melt water and rainfall on the upper mountain infiltrate underground and emerge on the lower dry lands as natural springs which supply water and sustain flows of tributaries of Pangani River during the dry season. The impacts of climate change and local land use are resulting in increased surface run-off which adds the risk of floods on the lower parts of the mountain.

The Miwaleni springs take their name from the Miwale palm trees, Raphia farinifera, growing on its banks. Traditionally these palm trees have been valued and used for worshipping and water catchment protection and are still valued for their shade and building material. Miwaleni springs are an oasis in the semi-arid dryland but threatened by encroaching farms and pastoralist activities on the banks, as well as by growing demand for irrigation water by both large sugar estate and small-scale farms.

Competing demand for water and land is the key challenge for the protection of the springs. Improvement of traditional furrow irrigation systems and a transition to modern systems, such as drip irrigation, could reduce the evaporation and run off loss of this abstracted water and increase the average productivity of agriculture. Appropriate irrigation systems may also reduce water user conflicts through a more fair distribution of available water resource among different uses.

CHIESA has facilitated dialogue among different stakeholder groups to learn about their priority areas of action. Chairmen of the water users associations, representatives of the large-scale sugar plantation, and village executive officers together with experts from the Kilimanjaro region office have identified climate-driven problems and the immediate, underlying and root causes for these problems. They have prioritized activities that form the basis of the Miwaleni springs adaptation action plan for climate change:

1)     promotion of appropriate irrigation systems

2)     protection and conservation of water sources

3)     strengthening integrated crop management

As temperatures rise, insect species and the balance between those which are pests and predators will change, including rates of development of new generations and expansion or shrinking of their geographical range. Land use change, fragmentation of natural habitats and use of synthetic pesticides have also disrupted the interactions in agro-ecosystems. Unfavourable conditions for natural enemies, such as wasps, have ensured optimal growth environments for the insect pests leading to increased damage to crops. Integrated pest management which utilizes conservation agriculture and integrated pest management technologies will support adaptation to increasing rainfall variability and risk of diseases and pests.

Emerging lessons and opportunities

  • Protection and conservation of water sources need to address the drivers of change on both moist mountain forests and neighbouring coffee-banana belt as well as on the dryland areas of Miwaleni Springs.
  • Supportive conservation policy and existing laws alone will not help solve the problem but require more political support for enforcement of regulatory mechanisms.
  • Water supply, use and management is the major component in the community-based climate change adaptation action plan developed for the Miwaleni springs together with other activities which can enhance food security.
  • Protection of natural enemies from pesticides and conservation and restoration of their habitats in the crop areas and surroundings are essential for pest management. This requires sustainable and ecologically sound management arrangements which aim at preserving and enhancing functional agro-ecosystems and their services. CHIESA is helping farmers to cope with potentially increasing insect menace through awareness-raising, technology transfer and training towards action plan implementation.

This article was first published in the Joto Afrika newsletter, a series of printed briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. The series help people understand the issues, constraints and opportunities that poor people face in adapting to climate change and escaping poverty.

Donors and partners

The CHIESA project is funded by The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, coordinated by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and implemented in cooperation with the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of York (UK) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania).

For more information, contact:

Dr. Tino Johansson, CHIESA Project Coordinator
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

Useful links

  • The Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa (CHIESA) Project:
  • Potentials of and Threats to Traditional Institutions for Community-Based Biodiversity Management in Dryland Areas of Lower Moshi, Tanzania: