Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Climate change: No joy in 2014

Climate change: No joy in 2014

Jeffrey Gogo Climate Story
THERE were a few cheerful moments for climate change, the environment and related sectors in 2014.
Or were they? Let’s take stock. Water was a major crisis last year, like many years before. And this results not only from its scarcity, but also from its abundance.

In Harare, the capital city where standards are duly expected to be highest than anywhere else in Zimbabwe, reliable water supplies remained a nightmare throughout the year.

Water quality is severely compromised, making it unsafe for human consumption. It comes with white foam, brown or black particles and the smell is as that of raw sewage

This is our unquestionable first-hand daily experience with Harare’s water. I was astonished by Engineer Zvobgo’s arrogance on ZTV News a few months back when, during a visit to the high density suburb of Mabvuku, which has gone for years without running water, he claimed the capital city’s water passed all quality checks, including those set by the UN.

Such comments are clearly insulting and offending to the educated and humble residents of Harare.

I do not know where this learned engineer has been living all along, but certainly not among the township poor, where clean, safe drinking water is a luxury.

Still on water, the flooding of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin in Masvingo, proved to be 2014’s major disaster and talking point.

In early February, rising waters breached the 680-metre high dam wall currently under-construction, flooding the river basin and displacing 20 000 people and 18 000 cattle, goats and donkeys.

The floods destroyed homes, schools and other critical public infrastructure.

At least 2 300 children were forced out of school.

The response from central Government was slow due to weak early warning systems, unpreparedness and inadequate finances. The affected families were eventually relocated in batches to Nuanetsi Ranch after spending several months living in makeshift shelters.

Living conditions at Nuanetsi are reported to be nearly as bad as those at the transit homes with continuing food and water shortages.

As Tokwe-Mukosi victims screamed for help, floods were at the same time wrecking havoc in Muzarabani and Tsholotsho.

Rain of over 300mm in a week had turned the flat lands of Muzarabani into a sea, with rivers overflowing, villagers marooned, homes and crops washed away, and 13 bridges completely destroyed.

Muzarabani usually receives around 400mm of rain during the main rainy season from December to February.

The floods claimed the lives of Moses Pfebve (5) of Gombera village and that of Matthew Matanhura (4) and his little sister, Priscilla (4).

These are the two fraternal faces of water, it can be a life-giver or “life-taker”.

And then we have those that wilfully pollute it, adding to the mountain of challenges already existing in Zimbabwe’s difficult water sector.

During the year, a Cabinet Committee on Water Pollution headed by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo tried to put a stop to the rot, with mixed results.

The multi-ministerial committee undertook a national study whose findings showed that municipalities, food, beverage and oil companies, funeral and tannery businesses were discharging a variety of harmful industrial chemical waste and raw sewage that degrade under and above ground water or cause corrosion of water pipelines.

On May 14, Dr Chombo threatened to shut down, within six weeks, corporate polluters which fail to upgrade or install effective technologies that limit water degradation.

In spite of the threats, and fearful of the resulting economic and job losses, no company was actually closed. The threat worked though, to some limited extent.

Indications are that numerous companies have seriously started addressing the issue of water pollution, what, with the Environmental Management Agency breathing heavily down their necks, increasing and tightening its unannounced inspections.

In an interview in October, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Mr Saviour Kasukuwere said that the provision of clean drinking water in Bulawayo had significantly improved and that pollution in rivers from mining had minimised.

Climate policy

In 2014, Zimbabwe successfully completed the making of its National Climate Change Response Strategy, two years after the process first started.

The document provides for the mainstreaming of climate change into national budgetary and developmental processes, a deficit that has relegated climate change into the periphery of Government planning.

It details, the strategies which Zimbabwe could pursue to help its economy and communities cope with rapidly changing climate that is already ravaging agriculture, the economic mainstay.

At least $10 billion will be needed to fund adaptation and mitigation programmes in the five to 10 years, says the climate change strategy.

Subsequent to the finalisation of the strategy, the country in September began stakeholder consultations for the development of the National Climate Policy, which will operationalise the NCCRS.

Two consultative workshops have so far been convened soliciting input from experts, communities, development partners and other stakeholders.

The NEP should be completed by August next year, according to the Climate Ministry expectations.

REDD+ and wildlife poaching  

The country continued readying itself for engaging into projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

National workshops were held for the second year running with stakeholders agreeing to disagree on the shape that the REDD+ strategy would take.

And the shape it should take is one that is accountable and transparent, of prime benefit to communities that rely on forests and, of course, bring income at the national level through carbon credit sales.

There is still no telling the amount of forests that Zimbabwe holds at present.

The figure of 15 million hectares of forest cover touted by many today is now outdated. New mapping is needed and that takes time and money.

This will be important to initiating public REDD+ projects. We can’t say for sure 2015 will see REDD+ starting in Zimbabwe.

There were less elephants killed illegally in Zimbabwe last year, through cyanide poisoning or by any other means due to increased patrols by authorities and the police.

The actual number of elephants killed could not be immediately ascertained, but ranks far much lower than the 300 murdered by cyanide in 2013.

This is attributed to increased patrols by rangers, community tip-offs and tougher sentences for convicted poachers.

Dozens of poachers were in 2014 sent to jail for no less than 15 years while the shoot-to-kill policy, though in existence for some years, was put into action.

Two elephant poachers were shot dead by the Parks and Wildlife Authority at Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls last year.

By September, four of the critically endangered rhino species had been killed in the low veld.

But this was 76 percent below those killed for the whole of 2013 when 17 animals were poached. Six died of natural causes. Still, wildlife conservationists want Government to do more to curb poaching.

Global climate talks

This year’s annual climate talks in Lima, Peru closed as did many other talks before it – the rich and poor countries divide widening further.

After two weeks of deliberations, negotiators produced a package of outcomes called the Lima Call to Climate Action, as if it was unknown to them when the talks began that they were meeting to act on the human-sponsored damage to the climate.

That outcome left Africa sore after its key pre-conference targets of galvanising adaptation as an important pillar of the negotiations equal in strength to mitigation was flatly rejected by the domineering industrialised states.

Nor will loss and damage feature as an independent item in a future deal as the continent desired.

But to everyone’s disdain, mitigation ambition from those historically responsible for causing climate change remained weak with pledges for finance and technology transfer remaining feeble also.

Instead, everyone should commit to reduce emissions in their small or big way and those in a position to provide financial support to developing nations should do so, without obligations. That’s the new call to action by the West.

Fifth assessment report

Now, this level of weak ambition is back-grounded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s release of its Fifth Assessment Report, a comprehensive periodic, and the most authoritative document on the climate science.

A section of the report released in March revealed the complexity of the impacts of the science on human livelihoods, and that even efforts to adapt were facing limits due to extreme temperature rise.

The report, titled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, from Working Group II of the IPCC, detailed the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks.

Temperatures in sub-Saharan Africa will rise by up to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, the AR5 study shows, much faster than the global average.

The report was high on confidence rainfall will decline in southern Africa and that hot days and droughts will frequent.

As a result, food security will be threatened, water stress will worsen and adaptive capacity compromised. Zimbabwe is expected to suffer yield declines in excess of 30 percent by 2050, according to the panel’s study.

The IPCC report also made an important revelation, that of the emerging conundrum to adaptation, an important human response to climate risks. It said such actions may not be enough to respond to climate change.

It is surprising, at Lima, the IPCC’s findings were not enough to drive industrialised countries into taking on deeper cuts for humanity’s good.

God is faithful.

Feedback: [email protected]


New Posts: