Climate change to hit Tanzania GDP, farmers: study

DAR ES SALAAM Thu Oct 1, 2009 5:16pm EDT

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world's largest volcanoes and the highest free-standing mountain, is seen from the Barranco Wall camp, in Tanzania January 2, 2006. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world's largest volcanoes and the highest free-standing mountain, is seen from the Barranco Wall camp, in Tanzania January 2, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

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DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Global warming could cut Tanzania's gross domestic product by 1 percent by 2030 and by as much as 68 percent by 2085, with the poor in the African country hit hardest, a London-based think tank said on Thursday.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said east African temperatures were expected to rise 2-4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, and weather patterns were becoming more volatile, with more droughts and floods.

"The impacts of climate change on agriculture will hit the poorest Tanzanians first and hardest, so the sooner they can adapt the better," James MacGregor, an IIED economist and one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.

IIED said changing weather patterns would boost harvests of crops like barley, rice and wheat, but might hurt maize, which more than 80 percent of Tanzania's poor cultivate.

Women would be worst hit, while impoverished smallholder farmers would miss the benefits of rising food prices due to lack of funds for irrigation or other ways to boost production.

The urban poor would also suffer due to high food prices.

The east African nation -- like those many other sub-Saharan African countries -- depends heavily on agriculture, most of which is rain-fed. More than half its population of 40 million people depends on farming for their livelihood.

"If Tanzania's farmers and farming practices do not adapt, the impacts of climate change will be extreme and they will ripple through the country's entire economy as so many other sectors are dependent on agriculture," said Muyeye Chambwera, another IIED economist and the co-author of the report.

The study, which used macroeconomic modeling, said wetter areas would be at risk of more frequent and severe rains, and that parts of the coastline faced flooding due to climate change. It said there would be need to boost access to credit, insurance, technology and training to help adapt.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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