This article intends to raise awareness to the general public and different stakeholders on the importance of EIA before carrying out any project. The article will also provide the historical background of EIA, its importance, different legislation and policies in relation to EIA, procedures involved in EIA and recommendations.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF EIA
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) originated in the United States of America when the Congress enacted the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA) 1969.The Act contains three main elements, these are; national policy for environment, procedures for realizing the objectives of the Act, establishment of US Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to administer the Act.NEPA intended each Federal Agency to include in every recommendations and any major actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment, a detailed statement known as EIA.EIA developed as a consequences of increased public awareness of the harmful environmental and social effects of development.
Legislation in respect of environmental protection in Africa began to emerge in early 1980s.The first African country to adopt a framework legislation on environmental management was Libya as 1981 it enacted Act No 7 of 1982 on protection of the environment. Other countries followed including Tanzania that enacted the National Environmental Management Act, No 19 of 1983.Despite the lack of specific environmental protection legislation or EIA legislation, the environment has been protected in Africa, particularly in Tanzania via administrative mechanisms and other pieces of legislation which have some bearing on environment though not exclusively on the environment. Currently we have the framework law which is the Environmental Management Act
CONCEPTUALIZATION OF EIA
EIA means a systematic examination conducted to determine whether or not a programme, activity or project will have adverse impacts on the environment.This is a management and planning tool for ensuring that the best alternatives is selected and not to prevent development activities from being carried out. It is a means for integrating harmful environmental impacts caused by human activities.EIA shall be carried out prior to the commencement or financing of the project. The developer of the project is not allowed to carry out the project without the Environmental Impact Assessment License. It is normally issued by the Minister of environment, Vice President Office (VPO) after receiving recommendations from National Environmental Council (NEMC) about the project.
IMPORTANCE/BENEFITS OF EIA
Environmental considerations are always supposed to take an upper hand in EIA processes, though social, cultural and economic considerations can be considered also. Here in below are the importances of EIA:-
Improve future projects design and reduced present cost
Avoidance of unnecessary conflicts
Helps projects and avoid long term problems
Improve sectional or institutional coordination
Considers alternatives projects and designs
Improve accountability and transparency
EIA UNDER DIFFERENT POLICIES
EIA as a tool to determine environmental impacts to any project and also provide mitigating measures to the same has been provided in a number of policies. Here in below are few selected policies:-
National Environmental policy, 1997, it is provided under chapter four paragraphs 63-66 ,generally EIA as a planning tool shall be used to integrate environmental considerations in the decision making process, in order to avoid unnecessary damage to the environment. Environmental considerations will not become an afterthought in planning and decision making but rather part of our consciousness and awareness of our developments realities.
National Forest Policy,1998,it is provided under paragraph 4.3.4 that EIA must therefore be incorporated in the panning and decision making process in order to ensure beforehand that unnecessary damage to the environment is avoided and mitigation measures are identified. Policy statements and directions have been provided for the effectiveness of the same.
The Wildlife Policy of Tanzania, Also provide that EIA has to be carried out before the commencement of any project in wildlife areas. Mwl.Nyerere, the then President of Tanganyika released a statement, the famous “Arusha Manifesto “that
“The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild space they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration but are an intergral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being. In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s, grandchildren, will be able to enjoy this reach and precious inheritance.
the conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge trained manpower and money, and we look to other nations to cooperate with this important task the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well”
The above policies and statement by Mwl Nyerere reflect and emphasize the importance of the wildlife conservation and also the importance of environmental considerations in any project before its commencement.
EIA IN DIFFERENT LEGISLATION
A number of legislation provides it mandatory for the carrying out of EIA before the commencement of any project:-
The Environmental Management Act,2004, under part VI section 81 provide that any person who wish to carry our any project shall undertake or cause to be undertaken at his own cost an environmental impact assessment study. This is normally conducted by experts from different fields for the purpose of coming up with comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The Mining Act, the Act incorporate the concept and need of EIA in many provisions for example Section 38 requires that every applicant for the special mining license to commission and produce to the minister an environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan on the proposed mining operations from independent consultants of international standards. Another part of great interest to EIA process is section 110(2)(h) and (j).Besides, the Minister also issued the Mining Environmental Management and Protection) Regulations 1999 which covers EIA aspects in the mining sector.
PROJECTS WHICH REQUIRES EIA
These are provided under the third schedule of the Environmental Management Act, 2004.Here in below are the projects:-
· urban development,
· dams, rivers and water sources,
· aerial spraying, mining including quarrying and open cast extraction,
· forest related activities,
· agriculture including animal production,
· processing and manufacturing industries,
· electrical infrastructure,
· management of hydrocarbons including the storage of natural gas and combustible or explosive fuels,
· waste disposal,
· natural conservation areas,
· nuclear reactors,
· major development in biotechnology including the introduction and testing of genetically modified organisms,
· any activity out of character with its surrounding, any structure of scale not keeping with its surrounding, major changes in land use,
· any other activity as may be prescribed in the regulations
The procedures are provided under the NEMC Guidelines and Procedures. According to the guidelines the EIA involve eight essential steps. These are;-
Ø impact assessment,
· Terms of reference
· Preparation of Environmental Impact Statement(EIS)
Ø auditing, and
Other details on EIA are provided under the Environmental Management Act, 2004 especially part VI of the Act.
Ø I call upon all project developers to conduct EIA as required by the law before the commencement of the project
Ø YETs’ should educate the people on the importance of EIA for the protection of the environment for sustainable development
Ø National Environmental Management Council(NEMC) should play its role effectively in issues regarding to EIA
Ø Local community should be involved in the process of conducting EIA as required by the law
Ø The Minister for environment, Vice President Office should not just grant EIA certificate basing on recommendations by NEMC but should take personal initiatives to make sure that EIA has been conducted to the standards required and the local community to be affected by the project were involved.
In conclusion, EIA is a management and planning tool, therefore it has to be conducted for the projects specified, so as to avoid environmental impacts which will be caused by the project. Mitigating measures should be employed as indicated in order to avoid adverse impacts to the environment. The aim of EIA is to a have sustainable development.
 .LL.B (Hons.), SoL-UDSM
 Clark, B.D(1980) Environmental Impact Assessment: A Bibliography with Abstracts, Mansell, London, p.7
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 Section 3,No 20 of 2004
 No 5 of 1998