Friday, February 18, 2011

Zimbabwe far from adapting to climate change

Nelson Chenga in the Financial Gazette (Zimbabwe): Prospects of Zimbabwe significantly improving on the past summer season’s crop harvest are slowly fading as rainless days stretch into weeks across most parts of the country. According to the Meteorological Services Department, a spell of about two weeks of reduced rainfall activity has been recorded in most areas due to dry air prevailing over the sub-region. This has created unfavourable conditions for any meaningful rainfall activity.

…While some are already starting to count their losses, the Met Department is of the view that the nation must not despair: A tropical cyclone currently hovering over the north of Madagascar is expected to track into the Mozambique channel and if it maintains that position chances of rain would be greatly enhanced across Zimbabwe.

…The climate change phenomenon seems to have once again rudely reminded the nation to seriously reorganise itself as yet another not so good summer season beckons. The country has been struggling for over a decade to boost its agricultural production. Unpredictable weather patterns, coupled with poor planning, have been some of the major drawbacks.

…“The increasing temperatures, changing seasons, and increases in frequency of droughts and floods will thus lower crop yields and livestock productivity, especially in already arid and semi-arid areas. Zimbabwe’s high dependence on climate sensitive economic sectors, coupled with low adaptive capacity makes the country particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate variability and change. Climate change directly affects natural resources and the health of eco-systems on which human well-being depends,” says the fact sheet.

…“Zimbabwe’s capacity to respond to climate change disasters at present is not optimal,” Oxfam GB and the Development Reality Insti-tute (DRI) have concluded. Oxfam, whose objective is to enhance food security and livelihoods for poor and vulnerable households, and DRI, a youth-oriented organisation, have been working with some communities in Zimbabwe’s Gutu District to strengthen the capacity of poor and vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change….

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