Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): A Guarantee for Sustainable Development in Tanzania

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Photo:Hon January Makamba, Minister of State for Union Affairs and Environment, at the launch of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Dodoma – May 2018.

Agro-industrialization is one of the most obvious routes for economic growth and development for developing economies such as Tanzania. However, as most of the world’s leading economies have shown, without adequate checks and balances in the development of agricultural products and processing, the environmental effects can be dire.

The pollution and depletion of natural resources such as air, water and soil as well as the extinction of wildlife, due to deforestation and clearing of wildlife habitats for farming, are just some of the irreversible impacts with adverse consequences to the environment.

To mitigate this, the SAGCOT Centre Ltd (SCL) was privileged to be part of the launch of Tanzania’s national guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in the capital, Dodoma, on Thursday 17th May 2018.
“The purpose of conducting a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is to ensure the public contributes to environmental issues included during the preparation of bills, policies, programmes or strategies. To set specific, transparent and solid procedures to resolve environmental issues, in action and strategies, identified to develop sustainable development issues.” Hon January Y. Makamba, Minister of State for Union Affairs and Environment, elaborated at the launch.

Tanzania, like many developing countries, does not have a long history of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA). Before the enactment of the Environmental Management Act 2004 (EMA), SEA was conducted mainly on a voluntary basis, and mostly as a development partners’ requirement.

Section 104 and 105 require that when preparing bills, regulations, policies, programmes, development plans, planned exploration of mineral or petroleum resources, or planned hydro-electric power station and major water projects likely to have an effect on the management, conservation and enhancement of the environment, or sustainable management of natural resources; SEA should be undertaken and submitted to the Minister of Environment.

Most private and public sector investors still struggle with the implementation of these sustainability policies. The Government of Tanzania, through the Vice President’s Office, found it prudent to provide clear and direct insight on the legislation, and its implementation, to key stakeholders through the development of the National Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment,2017, and its discussion at the launch. The launch was made possible through the financial support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Hon Makamba encouraged all stakeholders to use the guidelines and expressed his support to ensure a speedy implementation of this policy; “we already have a special desk at the Vice-President’s Office; the Strategic Environmental Assessment Help Desk. It is my call for you all to utilize this desk to achieve the implementation of the instructions set out in the Environmental Management Act.”

This discussion was an additional boost to the already existing 2014 Strategic Regional Environmental and Social Assessment (SRESA) policy coordinated, developed and implemented by SCL partners. Through the discussion at the launch of Tanzania’s national SEA guidelines, the public and private sector can now work together to build the Tanzanian economy guaranteeing sustainable development for future generations.

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