Award Winning Blog On Current Affairs, Governance And Politics
Monday, 1 September 2014
Climate Change Response: A Priority Or Option for Zambia?
By Lubasi Wachata
The 21st century has witnessed the
emergence of climate change as one of the world’s greatest developmental
challenges. Reliable assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) have alerted nations to the inescapable impacts of
climate change in the near term and raised the need to respond to climate
change impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts. In
Zambia, evidence of climate change impacts can be noted particularly in
land-based activities. The Zambia Meteorological Department analyzed climate
variability in the last four decades and established that there has been an
increase in frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts, and
increases in temperature both cool and warm seasons particularly in the
Delayed onset of the rainfall and earlier cessation, resulting in
shorter rainy seasons with more intense rainfall has also been noted. The most
serious of these have been the 1991/92 droughts and 2006/07 floods in which the
latter affected over 1 million people in 41 districts across the country.
Though not as severe as the 1991/92 drought, the 2004/05 drought also caused
irreversible damage to crops in two thirds of the country and forced Zambia to
import food. On the other hand, the 2009/10 floods affected 238,254 people
about 39,709 households.
climate change related problems are expected to continue to manifest in future thereby
calling for adaptation and mitigation measures to abate the situation. The National
Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA-2007) on Climate Change has been developed
in an effort to provide reliable and timely data necessary for adaptation
measures. In addition, the National Climate Change Response Strategy
(NCCRS-2010) has also been formulated to support and facilitate a coordinated response
to climate change issues. Its key recommendation is the establishment of the
National Climate Change and Development Council (NCCDC) to be a new
institutional framework for overseeing climate change activities nationally. This
led to the formation of the Interim Inter-Ministerial Climate Change Secretariat
whose main objective is to facilitate the establishment of the council and
strengthen national coordination of all efforts intended to respond to the
climate change crisis among others.
is making efforts to respond to climate change impacts through adaptation and
mitigation interventions. With respect to mitigation, Zambia’s contribution to
the regional greenhouse gas emission level is relatively small although
emissions from land use change are on an increase due to deforestation and
conversion of forests to other land uses. Thus, the country’s primary mitigation interventions
lie in halting deforestation.
Studies show that Zambia’s forests cover roughly 66 percent (about 49.9 million
ha.) of the total landmass of which 9.6 percent are protected forests under the
Forest Department. This is an extensive carbon sink with great potential for carbon
sequestration. However, there is a problem to climate change mitigation as forests
are under threat from deforestation. Studies show that between 1990 and 2000, Zambia
had the highest deforestation rate of about 851 000 ha in Southern Africa. This
made the country account for almost half the deforestation in the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) region.
forests offer a great potential for climate change mitigation, forestry
programmes related to climate change get the lowest budgetary share compared to
other departments. Available statistics show that between 2007 and 2009, Water
Affairs Department received the largest budget share of (ZMK 38.57 billion)
followed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives with (ZMK 13.194 billion).
The Forestry Department was the least funded at (ZMK 2.56 billion), with its
sister department the Environment and Natural Resources receiving (ZMK 2.949 billion)
during the same period. There is need for the government to increase its budgetary
allocations to the Forestry Department if the country is to fully utilize its great
carbon sink potential.
respect to adaptation, the Zambian Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience
(SPCR) has emerged as a key programme in the planned development assistance to
climate change adaptation at both the strategic and local level. The SPCR is
funded through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). The programme
is administered by the World Bank in collaboration with the African Development
Bank and other partners. Currently, two pilot projects are being implemented in
the Kafue and Barotse sub-basins of the greater Zambezi basin. The program
seeks to integrate climate resilience into development strategies and local
plans, strengthen institutional collaboration and partnerships among others.
all these mitigation and adaptation efforts should be applauded, it is clear
that climate change is not a “Priority” on the agenda for political elites in
Zambia. The Zambian government does allocate some funds to the various
programmes that deal with climate change but indeed more efforts are needed.
For example, ZMK 4 000,000 has been allocated to the PPCR in the 2014 budget. Climate
change financing currently depends to a large extent on external funding from
multilateral and bilateral donors namely the World Bank, UN agencies and the
Finnish Government among others. This, however, does not mean that the
government has no interest in the issue at all. On the contrary, national
political interest in the climate change agenda is apparent on climate change
adaptation through disaster risk reduction and disaster management.
established the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit as a permanently
established statutory government agency forming part of the Office of the Vice
President. The frequent occurrence of natural hazards such as droughts and floods
has usually triggered disasters in Zambia. Their striking and explicit nature makes
them not only attractive to the media, but also creates a perfect opportunity
for local politicians to show their importance. Responding to natural disasters
is thus a matter of priority for the political leadership in an effort to secure
support from voters.
recently, Zambia had lagged behind in addressing climate change issues.
However, the picture is gradually improving. Indeed, the government has made
several efforts in formulating climate change policies and institutional frameworks.
However, addressing climate change challenges will certainly require financing.
Most of the impediments to effective national climate change response are
rooted in the inadequate budgetary allocations to climate change related
interventions by the government.Left unabated, climate change has the potential
to reverse the well-deserved developmental gains the country has achieved over
the decades. Thus, the need for climate change to be at the top
of the agenda for the political elites in Zambia can never be overemphasized.