Climate change impacts human development

By Patricia Mashiri

The Zimbabwe Human Development report focuses on critically analysing issues pertaining to climate change and its impacts on the livelihood of people, food security, health and education.

The report was guided by Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and the Ministry of Macroeconomic Planning and Investment to provide an in-depth analysis of the challenges relating to climate change and human development. It shows that food security has been greatly affected by climate change since there is a reduction of incomes as a result of job losses.

The food security is in danger because of prolonged droughts, floods and cyclones. People are no longer able to sustain themselves from agriculture, which is the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy.

Professor Sara Baisai Feresu, the Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) at the University of Zimbabwe said the report addresses gender disparities. She said from a feminist point of view, climate change related hazards are more disempowering to women than men.

“Girls are subjected to early marriages because they want someone to feed them throughout the droughts and floods,” Feresu said.

Benson Mutongi Zwizwai, a Research Economist from the University of Zimbabwe said challenges remain in terms of bridging the gaps in service delivery.

In the rainy season, diseases spread fast.

“Heavy rains and floods may cause people to be relocated and moved into camps which have poor sanitary facilities. This may lead to diseases outbreaks. Drought as a result of climate change leads to poor harvests, which then causes malnutrition in both people and livestock. At this stage parents marry off their children causeing early sexual debut,” Zwizwai said.

Education is widely recognised as a universal human right and important indicator of economic growth, human development and poverty reduction but the climate change is directly affecting it.

“Classrooms destroyed by the extreme weather events become unusable during the rain seasons,” Zwizwai said. Most children are dropping out of school due to early marriages, early pregnancies, poor health and poor education facilities hence more awareness programmes regarding climate change should be initiated.”