Zimbabwe intensifies commitment to respond to climate change

By Patricia Mashiri

After enduring the ravages of climate change, Zimbabwe has taken bold steps to rectify the problem by becoming a member of and actively participating in the Paris Conference as a way of ways of reducing the disasters.

Oppah Muchinguri, the Minister of Water and Climate, made the call at the National Pre-Conference of the Parties (COP23) stakeholder’s meeting held at a local hotel in Harare.

The COP is largely a technical conference being the second after the Paris Agreement of December 2015 in which countries undertook to work torwards limiting the global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius as well as placing adaptation at a par with mitigation.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the past three years have made us aware of just how vulnerable we are as a country to extreme weather events. The 2015/2016 rainy season witnessed rains that were far from adequate for dry land crop agriculture and the country had to use more than US$200 million to import maize.

“The 2016/2017 season brought with it rains that were way above the normal together with Cyclone Dineo which caused extensive flooding in districts such as Bulilima, Tsholotsho and damaged roads and bridges country-wide,” Muchinguri said.

Climate change has brought suffering to the Zimbabwean people and the government has been incurring a lot of expenses in trying to repair the damaged infrastructure during the 2016-17 rainy season.

“Climate change has continued to bring unimaginable suffering to the Zimbabweans, with droughts and floods interchanging in occurrence from year to year causing extensive damage to infrastructure, for example government requires more than US$80 million for the repair of breached dams and weirs and for maintenance of 266 dams which are threatening to breach this rain season,” Muchinguri said.

Muchinguri urged Parliamentarians to influence the budget process by advocating for a Climate Fund which will demonstrate Zimbabwe’s commitment to combat the effects of weather changing patterns as it will create the environment for attracting funding from other multilateral funding mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund.

She encouraged the Zimbabwean delegation to COP23 to ensure that the Paris Agreement remains favorable to the developing countries by upholding the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in light of national circumstances.

“COP23 will offer a multitude of side-events related to climate finance, gender and youth, the latest climate science and research which if taken advantage of, the country will benefit immensely as we move to build climate change resilience in Zimbabwe,” Muchinguri said.

Washington Zhakata, Director of Climate Change Management Department in the Ministry of Water and Climate highlighted key issues that should be addressed at COP23. He said there was a need to identify key technical areas and decisions for further submission and technical workshops.

Shepherd Zvigadza, the Director of ZERO Regional Environmental Organisation and a member of the Climate Change Working Group said the narrative on climate change should dwell more on women and youth empowerment, as they are the most affected groups.