By Ronald Rungoyi
Climate change is a significant threat to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development, and the Government regards climate change mainstreaming as a priority in its devolution agenda. The country is witnessing increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, particularly droughts, prolonged intra-seasonal dry spells, and severe storms associated with widespread hail and flash flooding, increasing incidences of heatwaves and related health challenges. These and many other impacts threaten to derail Government’s development gains since independence.
Climate change impacts continue to disrupt the country’s agro-based economy, hydropower production, human settlements while also affecting critical communications and social infrastructure. Significant amounts of resources are being concentrated by the Government and international organisations toward humanitarian activities for communities who would otherwise take care of themselves under a normal climate in an attempt to cushion them from climate vagaries.
After successfully conducting a country wide provincial sensitisation mission to establish climate change mainstreaming entry points at subnational level, the Climate Change Management Department (CCMD) is rolling out a series of district climate change awareness campaigns. Mashonaland central was the launch pad with four districts covered in November 2019, namely Concession, Bindura, Shamva and Rushinga.
Ms Emily Matingo who is coordinating the process of mainstreaming climate change in relevant development frameworks emphasised the importance of climate change mainstreaming indicating that it is only when we plan for, prepare for and proactively tackle climate change issues that we can reduce casualties as a result of climate change induced weather extremes which are on the increase as far as their occurrence and severity is concerned.
The district meetings unraveled the National Adaptation Plan process which seeks to prepare and help accelerate districts on ways to adapt to the changing climate and the associated impacts by equipping them with capacity to be proactive to the climate change menace.
The district meetings which were attended by the district development committees, local leadership, traditional leaders, including chiefs and members of the community gave an opportunity for the Climate Change Management Department to interface with the public and hear their concerns and issues they felt were causing climate change and how the public can initiate localised mitigation and adaptation measures.
Speaking at one of the meetings in Concession, Deputy Director in the Climate Change Management Department Mr Kudzai Ndidzano highlighted the need for the general public to work closely with the local leadership in trying to find ways of adapting to climate change guided by the National Climate Policy. He reiterated the fact that the country needed to urgently mainstream climate change in development frameworks and budgeting processes towards enhanced climate change adaptation and resilience.
He emphasised the need to adopt locally suited adaptation interventions building on the existing resources and technical inputs from the respective government officers and other organisations operating in the districts. Examples of adaptation options discussed include nature-based adaptation options and alternative livelihood activities such as non-timber forest products from sustainable forestry management practices which have both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits.
Of interest was the submission by Chief Makuni of Rushinga district. He bemoaned the abandonment of indigenous or traditional knowledge (IKS) calling for complementarity of science and IKS. Indeed, as the Government sets out an enabling environment for climate change adaptation it will explore the interface between climate science and the role that Indigenous Knowledge Systems play in informing livelihood options and seasonal forecasting and disaster preparedness.