Ruth Butaumocho African Agenda
The last three months have witnessed riveting and disturbing news on natural disasters across the globe.
Floods have ravaged Germany and Belgium, while tropical storm and earthquake shook Haiti to the core. Other countries in Europe have recorded high temperatures, while China has also been under siege from torrential rains.
Africa has not been spared, as several countries across the continent are experiencing the effects of climate change differently with floods and extreme weathers being the worst recorded challenges.
Several countries in East Africa were in May this year hit by floods, with over 40 000 people being displaced in Kenya in the process, destroying hundreds of hectares of planted crops. The Kenyan National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), say 2,1 million people in 23 counties across Kenya’s north and coast are now in urgent need of food aid over the next six months as droughts continue to threaten livelihoods.
Sudan is also currently experiencing heavy floods since July. Similar challenges owing to consequential effects of climate change are being felt across.
In Zimbabwe, temperatures have remained low in September, which ordinarily is a hot month and often records high temperatures, throughout.
Floods, droughts and other unusual weather patterns inconsistent with regional weather patterns have become a regular occurrence in the last few years.
Two years after Cylone Idai hit several countries in Southern Africa — Zimbabwe included — killing more than 1 000, the effects of the floods remain etched in the minds of many.
These and other climate related issues are expected to dominate the Conference of Parties (COP 26) meeting in the United Kingdom where various countries across the globe are expected to deliberate on mitigation measures and adaptation actions against climate change.
A delegation from Zimbabwe led by President Mnangagwa will also attend the conference and present a position paper on the country’s strategy in mitigating climate change effects and practical targets to reduce climate-related challenges.
Experts agree that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change and yet it is not the major contributor to this global problem. Climate-related problems that are already giving headaches to the continent’s leaders include land degradation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and other climate-related vulnerabilities.
Apart from killing people and destroying infrastructure, floods have also worsened the problem of food shortages, increasing household vulnerability across.
At the rate at which natural disaster continue to ravage the continent, there is need to come up with sustainable, viable and realistic strategies to curb the effects of climate change. According to the World Economic Forum, Africa has done little to cause global warming — its greenhouse gas emissions are only 4 percent of the world’s total. But it is already facing the worst effects of climate change.
Suffice to say, Africa still needs to take a proactive strategy and preserve the continent from further damage owing to climate change.
Of immediate concern to the continent would be the promotion of climate resilience through promoting sustainable land use as well as investing in key infrastructure.
Presently Zimbabwe has now adopted climate smart agriculture, through the implementation of the Pfumvudza programme, which the Government introduced to small scale farmers two years ago.
The beauty of Pfumvudza is that it runs on three core underlying principles – minimum soil disturbance or tillage; digging holes for planting only, permanent soil cover by using organic mulch; crop rotations and intercropping cover crops with main crops. Although, it is still in infancy, Pfumvudza is strategic in climate proofing and enhancing household food security, as attested by the bumper harvest that the country recorded in the just ended farming season.
But of course, like any other system, Pfumvudza cannot be implemented in isolation, but it will need to be supported by various other realistic strategies to curb the effects of climate change.
Promotion of low carbon usage through investing in clean energy, sustainable transport and sustainable forestry management are also crucial areas that begs for everyone’s attention and involvement.
Climate change demands that Africa also introspects on the relationship between energy and development, with report showing that in Sub Saharan alone, more than 600 million people do not have access to electricity.
Lack of adequate electricity-which is pricey anyway, affords nations an opportunity to invest in different forms of renewable energy.
Solar energy has already been touted as one of the most effective clean energies that works well in reducing carbon usage, while cutting energy bills for most homes. If anything using solar can turn the country’s electricity’s shortage into an opportunity to modernise our power sector and build a low-carbon economy that’ll fuel growth for decades to come.
Such a progressive development in using solar energy, calls for investment is solar farms and other relative clean energy initiatives so that it becomes a shared vision and a beginning in building a low carbon economy.
Nations that have been on the renewable energy grid says, it offers so many benefits, from cleaning the air and reducing the pollution, to lowering prices and taking us off the destructive fossil fuel prices.
Already several countries that include like Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe are emerging as front-runners in the global transition to low carbon energy.
With growing realisation that the risks and economic costs of climate change have been underestimated, African leaders should use the upcoming Copac 26 meeting to call for progressively laws that protects Africa’s interest and insulate its people from farther harm on the effects of climate change.
And for a continent whose population is 60 percent youth, African leaders should encourage the promotion of entrepreneurial skills and innovation that focuses on projects that integrate renewable energy.
Leaders can also develop mentorship programmes to guide the youth towards using existing enabling policies and to develop and integrate these climate solutions into their ongoing work and enterprises.