“And The Heat Goes On”: radio documentaries on climate change in East Africa

Independent radio producer and Feasta member Mary Phelan travelled to Tanzania and Zanzibar earlier this year in order to make two radio documentaries on the effects of climate change in East Africa.

And The Heat Goes On will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm this weekend, marking Global Climate Impacts Day on Saturday 5.3.2012. The first programme, which focuses on the impact climate change is having on Zanzibar, will be broadcast on Saturday 5.3.2012 at 7am. The second programme, looking at the situation in northern Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro, will be broadcast the following day, 6.3.2012 at 8am.

Below is some information from the press release on the documentaries.


East Africa is one of the parts of the world predicted to suffer most as a result of Climate Change.
“People tend to see Climate Change as something that will happen in the future” says Pius Yanda,
professor of Climate Change at the University of Dar Es Salaam. “But here in East Africa the impact
of Climate Change is already being felt, and being felt very strongly. This is serious.” he continues,
pointing out how lives were lost during the very severe flooding that afflicted Dar Es Salaam earlier
this year. Yanda was jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change as
a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The first programme looks at the situation in mainland Tanzania and in Zanzibar. With their snow-
white beaches and turquoise waters these low-lying islands – for there are two – have become
a popular tourist destination in recent years. However beach erosion is becoming an increasing
problem and hotels along Zanzibar’s famous east coast have resorted to building walls in an attempt
to prevent the increasingly high tides from engulfing their facilities.

Wells in local villages along the coast have also become unusable as sea water gets into the water
table. Salim Jaffer, who manages a small hotel in Stonetown, the capital, fears that much of Zanzibar
may be underwater before long: “there is not much high ground in Zanzibar” he says “and my fear is
that much of Zanzibar may be under water within a few decades.”

The first programme also explores how central climate change has become for NGOS working on
the ground in Tanzania. “Climate Change is having a very significant impact on aid and development
programmes here. In a country like Tanzania, where such a high proportion of the population is
dependent on agriculture, changing weather patterns have a huge impact on people’s capacity to
feed themselves. Even areas where there is no history of food shortages are being affected. And
obviously, climate change considerations have huge implications for our future planning” says
Baltinglass woman Monica Gorman, who is Oxfam’s country manager for Tanzania.

The second programme looks at the situation in Northern Tanzania, where the melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro has become an iconic image for climate change. The area has long been the
centre of the coffee industry in Tanzania. Coffee needs a very specific microclimate and the slopes
of Mount Kilimanjaro used to produce the highest quality beans. However as temperatures increase
in Northern Tanzania – and they have reached national records in recent years – yields have reduced
very significantly. The unpredictability of rains, combined with the drying up of local water sources,
have further exacerbated the situation. The programme visits coffee growers on the lower slopes of
the mountain and finds that coffee production has been much affected by increasing temperatures
and diminished rainfall.

Here producer Mary Phelan hears from Dublin woman Catherine Murphy, who works for Café
Africa, an NGO helping local coffee farmers increase their yields. She also hears from a mountain
guide who regularly brings climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro and who thus has direct personal
experience of its melting ice-cap. She then travels further north to Logido district in Northern
Tanzania, a pastoralist area that was devastated by the 2009 drought which killed 70% of local
livestock. Here she speaks to a range of local Masai, exploring the social, as well as the economic,
impact that this has had on the area.

And The Heat Goes On was produced by Galway based Sound Woman Productions with support
from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound & Vision scheme, and the Simon Cumbers
Media Fund. The first programme will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday May 5th,
Global Climate Impacts Day, at 7am. The second programme will be broadcast on Sunday May 6th
at 8am.

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