River Ruvu is one of the largest rivers in Tanzania. It is the main source of freshwater in Dar es Salaam, a business city and has a population of over 6 million. To farm near the river is very advantageous for Magdalena because she can use its waters for irrigation. She can also farm all seasons of the year.

River Ruvu, one of the Dar es Salaam's main water sources. Photo: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa

In 2021 however, Tanzania faced a major water shortage due to lack of rain. The water supply was not enough for the fish, irrigation systems and the city of Dar es Salaam city. Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) noticed the drop in water supply and made placed some restrictions on water use by the public.

In 2021, water levels of the River Ruvu dropped significantly due to drought. Photo: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa

The drop in water levels was a serious warning to farmers, fishermen and the Tanzanian government. It signaled the beginning of another multi-year drought, an event that is occuring more frequently now due to climate change. Farmers were forced to stop using water from the river in order for DAWASA to supply Dar es Salaam.

Magdalena had to find new ways to irrigate her tomato crop due to restrictions on water use by DAWASA. Photo: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa

Magdalena was forced to leave her farm and find another place at Kigonzile, Iringa which is more than 600 Km from Mlandizi. Feeling she had no other options she decided to participate in a joint venture with her friend in a new location where they have started farming.

The changing climate has forced Magdalena and other small-scale farmers like her to look for new places to farm in. Photo: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa
"It was not easy to shift from the place I used to do farming for more than 5 years. It was like a nightmare but in the end it is reality. Climate change has chased me away and I don't know when I will go back to the heaven farm I was used to." 

Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Director General Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo says agriculture is not only being affected by drought at the moment. There are many other challenges. He says that climate change is affecting the soil, bringing new diseases and harmful insects.

Climate change does not impact only water. It also impacts the soil, it affects insect populations and movement, etc. Photo: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa

Dr. Mkamilo says that it is time for farmers to start sourcing data before farming - a major challenge for small-scale farmers who do not have the extra money to invest in data. The institution is carrying out a lot of research to help them farm during this intense period of climate change. Small Farmers like Magdalena don't have enough data from Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) or even TARI which could help them to overcome the harmful effects of climate change. this gap needs to be filled, otherwise people will have to turn to the private sector, a rather expensive solution.

Magdalena is asking the government, non governmental agencies and people to stop destroying the beautiful world. She says human beings are the ones who are responsible for climate change and they must make sure the world is safe once again. "If they continue to pollute the world, where should we go?"

Magdalena prays that we stop destroying the world. Photo Credit: Malembo Simbano/RLS Southern Africa