Monday, July 13, 2009

Flood disaster in southern Africa

Yolande Groenewald in the Mail & Guardian (South Africa): Every year when seasonal flooding begins the Lozi king --- the Litunga -- calls on his people to leave the lowlands of western Zambia and join him in a spectacular ceremony, celebrating the flooding that will fertilise their farmlands. But in the past two years there were no celebrations. Rains arrived earlier than usual, leading to devastating floods.

The floodwaters rose and covered the high ground to which the villagers usually retreat, resulting in hunger, disease and the loss of possessions. The Lozi blame climate change. “The seasons have changed,” Bennet Imutongo Sondo (74), the second induna of Liyoyelo village in Zambia’s Mongu district, told researchers from international aid agency Oxfam. “This is a very big disaster.”

An authoritative report on the human tragedy of climate change has warned that Liyoyelo is not unique. Farmers from Bangladesh to Uganda and Nicaragua, no longer able to rely on generations of farming experience, are faced with endless failing harvests. Climate-related hunger could be the defining human tragedy of this century, said the report, released this week by Oxfam….

The Zambezi River in Zambia in a less swollen state, shot in 2005 by Craig Chipperfield, who has generously released it into the public domain

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