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Zanzibar’s strategy to control sea erosion show success

THE famous Forodhani Park, a public beach most known by those who visit Zanzibar was being threatened by erosion caused by sea rise.

The park of the historical city of Stone Town was becoming a casualty of sea-level rise which is linked to global warming.

The park (also Forodhani Gardens or Jubilee Gardens), located along the main sea-walk, just in front of the most famous buildings of the House of Wonders and the Old Fort, has been widely used by residents and visitors including tourists as evening public place for leisure or relaxation.

It is the seafront area where, during the sunset, one can find local foods, drinks, and fruits to enjoy, and also see young people go for swimming. However, one thing that many people who visit the place never noticed was that the beach was gradually going under water. It was being submerged as a result of rising sea water.

The World Bank come in rescue after it supported construction of a wall in a project that helped to increase the resilience of the seawall along Malindi/Forodhani waterfront, to minimize increasing risks of damage to the Zanzibar historical town.

“We are happy our town and park is saved from erosion. We thank the government and donors,” Mr Mohamed Juma, resident of the stone town said. The 340 metres length seawall project was among multiple projects supported by the World Bank under the ‘Zanzibar Urban Services Project (ZUSP).

’ ZUSP project main objective is to improve access to urban services in Zanzibar and conserve the physical cultural heritage.

The project also helped to improve management of domestic sold wastes, drainage, street lighting, renovation of the ‘Zanzibar Municipal Council building’, and improvement of some services in towns of Chakechake, Mkoani, and Wete on Pemba Island.

Mr Issa Sariboko- Director General, Zanzibar Stone Town Development and Conservation Authority (ZSTDCA) said that the ‘sea wall’ is timely at this time of predictions of rising waters caused by climate change, which has been impacting many parts of the World including developing countries.

“Managing a coastline is important in our sustainable tourism programme. The town had been exposed to the threats of coastline being worn away,” Sariboko said adding that there are other programmes going on to protect the stone town areas.

Zanzibar Environment Management Authority (ZEMA) director General Mr Mjaja Sheha said that protecting and conserving the coast is about stopping erosion, and it is necessary in all places, to safeguard coastal communities.

He said that extent of environment degradation in Zanzibar, including tourism areas of Maruhubi historical site, Donge, Nungwi, and Malindi areas has been growing and that residents in the Islands should understand the threats.

While Maruhubi has been ruined by illegal dumping of litter and quarry, Donge, the only authorised area on Unguja Island for sand digging was being threatened by large pits due to sand quarrying.

“Having the sea wall at Forodhani is important, but we must join forces to conserve our environment to minimise risks of sea rise, leading to floods,” Mjaja said adding that success has also been recorded in other places by planting of mangrove trees.

According to survey results released by Mr Mjaja, apart from erosion, land salinity was a problem as fresh water and land is no longer fit for drinking and farming respectively due to salinity. It has been revealed that more than 145 areas on Unguja and Pemba Island are under threat of erosion forcing some of people out of their homes.

“We have planted many mangrove trees in affected areas, and fortunately the trees are growing,” he said. He also urged local authorities to collaborate with law enforcers to discourage the cutting down of trees- mangrove at the coastal areas, and improve community policing to prevent illegal dumping of litter into the sea.

Mr Alex Jackson-environmentalist says that it is becoming increasingly important for local governments and councils to start managing coastlines in order to protect them from increasing coastal erosion and flooding due to altering sea levels.

He argues that reason for coastal management is obvious, to protect homes and businesses from being damaged and even destroyed by coastal erosion or flooding. “Failure to do so can have severe economic and social effects, especially along coastlines which are used for tourism and industry,” he said.

Mr Jackson says that Management of coastlines is also important to help protect natural habitats; however governments generally do not engage in coastal management where there isn’t an economic risk as effective coastal management is very expensive.

Sea Walls are the most obvious defensive methods that span entire coastlines and attempt to reduce erosion and prevent flooding in the process. They’re big, and very expensive requiring constant maintenance so that they don’t fall.

Traditionally, sea walls are large flat walls; however, more modern sea walls have a curved structure that reflects waves back into incoming waves, breaking them up and further reducing erosion. But environmentalists have also been encouraging land management and beach Nourishment.

This is where sand and shingle are added to a beach in order to make it wider. Beach nourishment also increases the distance a wave has to travel to reach the cliffs and so the wave will lose more energy and have less erosive power when it reaches the cliffs. The sand and shingle has to be obtained from elsewhere and is normally obtained from dredging.

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