Sunday, February 8, 2015

Funding drought threatens Zimbabwe climate change response

Madalitso Mwando in the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Zimbabwe is struggling to pay for measures to cope with climate stresses and weather-related disasters, such as recent floods, amid domestic spending cuts and slow progress in accessing international finance.

The budget for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate has been reduced to $52 million for 2015, from $93 million set aside for 2014. As this year began with floods that have claimed some 20 lives and washed away villages, the funding squeeze has raised concerns about the country's preparedness for climate-linked disasters, which are expected to worsen as the planet warms.

The Civil Protection Unit, the state's disaster response agency, was caught unawares by the floods, exposing a lack of effective early warning for extreme weather events. The meteorological services department received $400,000 from the government last year - less than a tenth of the $5 million it says it needs annually.

Barnabas Chipindu, a meteorologist and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said economic hardship had shrunk state capacity to deal with climate-related disasters. "The country does not have enough resources to combat the adverse impacts of climate variability," Chipindu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation....

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