Floods and drought

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 10:31:00 +0000

ZAMBIA has experienced drastic changes in the weather patterns which have negatively impacted on agriculture, energy and other critical sectors.

The country, particularly from Central to the Southern region, initially experienced a dry spell at a time the crops needed sufficient water for growth.

Thereafter, a heavy downpour hit the same region causing flash-floods that submerged the crops which nevertheless had already withered. Houses in many parts of Lusaka and other towns were flooded while the roads became impassable.

Thus the farmers have suffered a double tragedy – the dry spell and on the other extreme, devastating floods.

This is a natural disaster which requires a well-informed analysis and subsequently long-lasting solutions. It must start with scientific projections.

Climate change mainly is as a result of natural causes and human activity.

In the Zambian scenario, weather variability could be attributed to natural climate dynamics triggered by complex configuration of global and regional systems.

Secondly, the changes in the weather patterns are commonly known to be caused by human activities such as indiscriminate charcoal-burning that trigger emission of pollutants such as carbon dioxide.

Therefore, it is important for the general citizenry to understand such dynamics though they appear to be highly-technical on face value.

But most importantly, the Zambia Meteorological department is key in giving accurate weather forecasts. The data is important to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and other Government wings.

The issue of climate change has resonated in Zambia and globally as workshops and conferences have been held on this very important topic, which unfortunately has not generated sufficient interest among stakeholders such as peasants and small-scale farmers.

This is partly because discussions on effects of climate change sound far-fetched to the ordinary who feel it is a preserve of the scientists and other professionals.

Discussions on this matter are mainly confined to conferences and workshops spearheaded by highly-scientific and technical facilitators. This issue needs to be more inclusive!

Therefore, there is an imperative need to break it down for the ordinary citizens to comfortably relate to this seemingly highly-scientific and complex scenario.

In any case, Zambia’s National Adaptation Programme of Action on climate change outlines a number of measures, including creating public awareness on the adverse effects of climate change.

Has this public awareness been effective and translated into local languages?

Peasant and emerging farmers, residents in flood prone areas such as Kanyama, Kuku, and Chibolya in Lusaka as well as residents in Kitwe’s Musonda, Luangwa and other townships may have no clue about climate change and its negative effects.

Yes, it is a plain truth that Zambia has been exposed to adverse conditions of climate change that are pounding agriculture, livestock, wildlife, forestry, water and power generation.

The drought in 2015/16 season for instance, affected agriculture and power generation which threatened food security. Power rationing or load-shedding adversely affected the entire industry and domestic households.

A well-designed public awareness programme must be in place to trickle down to all people across the country in major languages. The media should be included in this programme to provide information in a more user-friendly fashion.

Media houses should dedicate airtime and space to issues on climate change and global warming. Stories must be designed in such a manner that they speak to the audience and not splashing unbroken technical officialise that does not appeal to the people.

Artistes such as musicians, drama groups and comedians can be used as an effective tool of communication to the people.

Meetings and conferences are also effective, but the gatherings must be redesigned and devolved to rural settings to involve ordinary citizens and the most affected such as farmers.

School curriculum in pre-school, primary through to secondary education level must have a major component on climate change and its impact.

It is important to appreciate that the impact of climate change is increasingly affecting agriculture, infrastructure, tourism and human health, all ingredients that are key to sustainable national development.

Time to act is now!


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