Monday, April 16, 2012

Zimbabwe ill-prepared for climate impacts

Madalitso Mwando in via Alertnet: Zimbabwe's lack of preparedness for the impact of climate change is coming under increasing scrutiny, as the nation faces another year of drought and the government admits it has done little to mitigate the crisis.

Smallholder farmers, the main producers of maize, the country's staple food, are suffering poor harvests because of sparse rainfall and rising temperatures. With the threat of food insecurity being felt across the country, the government is under pressure to formulate a comprehensive climate change policy. The agriculture ministry said last year that sufficient crops had been planted to feed the nation. But rain expected in late December came only in March, forcing a revision of the projected output.

"No one knows anymore when the rains will fall. We are only seeing the rain now after having planted last year," said Thembiso Mkhwebu, a smallholder in rural Gwanda, some 100 km (63 miles) south of Bulawayo. "Our maize wilted a long time ago and this rain is useless now," she added. "We cannot start planting now."

Despite previously insisting that Zimbabwe was able to feed itself, the government last month appealed to international humanitarian agencies for help. The US government's Famine Early Warning Systems Network estimates that up to 2 million people will require food assistance....

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