Zanzibar’s Approach on Adapting to Climatic Conditions and Sustaining Livelihoods

Zanzibar Archipelago for centuries has exemplified progressive inventiveness that has shed light on the East African main-lands. Spread across the Indian Ocean off the Tanzania and Kenya’s Swahili coastline on the Indian Ocean, the islets have for many years inspired progressive environmentally friendly architectural developments, and in most recent years they have showcased that climatic reforms are possible through refreshing methods to sustain the people’s lifestyle in a climatic challenged globe which has seen the ocean levels rise and increasingly cause havoc to communities in varied parts of the world. For centuries spice farming, and fishing have prospered in making a living off the Island and recently, it has been the kind of place to find people innovatively adapting to climate change through progressive methods. 

Life in Zanzibar hinges on solving environmental problems things like deforestation, water shortages and a collapsing fishery livelihood presents challenges, and survival depends upon the ability to adapt. The Zanzibari people started to get a feeling of how disastrous global warming would be, some two decades ago, and by looking at Kokota Island with less tree canopy grounds; temperatures skyrocketed whereas soils could not retain moisture and without the grip of a dense network of tree roots, they quickly turned into dust. A decade ago Kokota was teetering toward the brink of collapse – deforestation and climate change wreaking havoc on the small island. 

Through a visionary from the Pemba Island in Mbarouk Mussa Omar, he quickly recognized that Pemba could also suffer the same fate and he was determined to do something. Mbarouk teamed up with Jeff Schnurr, a young Canadian tree planter living in Zanzibar. Schnurr's knowledge and Mbarouk's connections with Kokotans, mobilized local residents to use proper solutions to counter the effects of warmer conditions. Kokota - The Islet of Hope is a celebration of ingenuity and one community's effort to reforest their island to adapt to the weather patterns.

The Reforestation Program
Mbarouk thought that if he would be able to figure out a way to plant trees on Pemba Island, he will be able to find a way to plant them on Kokota Islet as well. Through drive, and motivation as well as collaborative efforts from the community, they were able to plant 100,000 seedlings in the first year. Mbarouk embarked on journey back to Kokota and he asked the people; What is the most important problem you need to fix? And they were able to mention that firstly what they needed most was fresh water. The obvious source been rainwater harvesting, was the prime consideration on how they could enhance collecting and storage. Mbarouk’s idea was to build Kokota’s first school and a water tank for use the roof in collecting more rain water. 

Education for Improved Living Conditions
Kokotans worked effortlessly for months to complete building the first school on the Islet and a water tank. Planting trees was the next necessity for Kokota and the need for a lot of fresh water to start a nursery was the challenge at stake. Through water conservation efforts by a group of women on Kokota, they were eventually able to plant thousands of seedlings to grow a conservation forest on Kokota which spanned across 40% of the Kokota Island. In a period of three years, they were able to plant close to 300,000 trees. In addition to the reforestation efforts Kokotans have completely enhanced their efforts on farming and more so, they are now using renewable energy to charge portable household batteries proving that adapting to climate change leads to a more conducive lifestyle. The trees brought about economic development to the community through fruit production and well managed tree harvesting.