Tackle climate change, pollution and protect biodiversity: UN Zimbabwe Chief

By Paul Sixpence

ZIMBABWE joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Environment Day (WED) 2023 on 5 June with a call for collaborative efforts in biodiversity restoration and protection, climate adaptation and resilience aswell as tackling plastic pollution.

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme, “Solutions to Plastic Pollution –   #BeatPlasticPollution.”

In a statement to mark WED 2023, the United Nations (UN) in Zimbabwe underscored the importance of addressing climate change, pollution and biodiversity crisis as a means to achieving national and global development goals.

“Without addressing the impact of the triple planetary crisis (climate change, pollution and biodiversity) the determination to end poverty, hunger and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Strategy-1 will not materialise,” said Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe. “There is a need to ensure that development programmes and projects are climate informed and climate sensitive.”

Official sources indicate that Matabeleland North province ranks as one of the most hardest hit regions in the country when it comes to the effects of climate change.

According to the ZIMVAC report, in 2022 Matabeleland North received the biggest chunk of aid from both state and non-state actors compared to other regions. In the same year, the region had the lowest average household monthly income and expenditure figures. Household income stood at US$38 and expenditure at US$16.

“The province’s (Matabeleland North) reliance on aid is partly attributed to climate change induced droughts and irregular rainfall patterns which have led to reductions in crop and livestock production,” said Tawanda Mazango, Executive Director at Lupane Youth for Development (LUYD) organisation.

Droughts in the region are not a problem to humans and their domestic animals only, but to wildlife in the Hwange national park as well.

“The scarcity of water and pastures in the Hwange national park pushes elephants to invade communities at the edge of the park,” Mazango added. “This has resulted in increased human-wildlife conflict. Elephants destroy crops and in some instances, humans are killed at contested water points.”

To mitigate the effects of climate change, and restore and protect biodiversity the UN in Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and development partners has been implementing a number of projects aimed at building resilience, promoting access to clean energy and water, inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods.

The UN Zimbabwe Chief in his statement further added that to ensure environmental sustainability and mitigate the impact of climate change, one of the initiatives that they have embarked on is “community asset creation.” Through this initiative UN agencies are helping communities with cash and food assistance, supporting water harvesting and small-scale irrigation.

The statement further added that UN Zimbabwe is also introducing green technologies to aid solar-powered pumps for horticulture, “which is important for household food security and income generation.”

Lupane Youth for Development (LUYD), a community-based civil society organisation in Lupane called for the strengthening of climate adaptation and resilience initiatives by educating communities on climate change and ensuring their have access to green technologies.

With support from the French embassy in Zimbabwe, LUYD has been implementing an innovative climate adaptation project targeting women based in rural Lupane.

“The project seeks to promote the integration of scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge systems while mainstreaming women as key project beneficiaries. The project has strengthened Lupane rural women’s ability to adapt and mitigate effects of climate change by capacitating them to access enabling modern technologies and document locally accepted indigenous knowledge systems of responding to weather variabilities,” said Mazango.

Zimbabwe, like many other countries in the global south, has not been spared from the harsh effects of climate change. Between 2015 and 2022 the country has experienced four droughts, floods and Cyclone Idai in 2019.

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