By Benard Chiketo and Frank Mpahlo
Malaria in upper Vumba. Droves of villagers migrating into Burma Valley and Baby Himalaya. Over 700 dead in category three tropical Cyclone Idai mudslides and floods. Villagers guard homes against marauding baboons as draught ravages Buhera. Gender-based violence on the increase! A not-so-obvious single thread runs through all these harsh realities across Manicaland, Zimbabwe as a result of climate change.
Climate change is having far-reaching implications far beyond weather, climate, water resources and agriculture. And the jigsaw is only getting more complicated. But data tracking and tying everything to changing weather phenomenon is hard to come by as the Zimbabwe country lacks rigorous reporting mechanisms, environmental activists note. “Every sector needs to be looked at and know exactly how it is impacted by climate change,” Green Governance Trust (Green Gov) Director Frank Mpahlo said.
There is need to analyze the links between changing climate and human and ecosystem development as well as make future projections, he said. “Right now, the country is just grappling in the dark,” Mpahlo said. Even in the vacuum, decisions – often complex and costly with long-term implications – are already being made daily in response to the many climate-related challenges the nation is facing. “The quality of decisions from national to individual level are clearly questionable in the absence of the accurate clear-cut evidence,” he said.
Equally important – in the interest of transparency and accountability – is the need for the public to understand the quality and provenance of that evidence, and whether any assumptions have been made in generating it. “Specialists in different sectors need to work with climatologists to interpret available information in a way that is relevant to them in order to improve the quality of decisions,” the Green Gov honcho opined.
Mpahlo expressed frustration at the absence of data relating more directly to climate which he said is important to inform interventions. “Knowing the level of impact of climate change is important to inform climate interventions such as number of people affected by Cyclone Idai which is not clear to this day,” he said.
Even the number of those who died, where displaced and still in need of assistance is not clear three years on. Government declared over 340 people who are still to be accounted for as missing and not dead with the number of the dead for years only being placed at 343. The environmental activist noted that the country does not have accurate numbers of “people in need of clean energy, number of women living with health conditions whose situations are being made worse by climate change and number of children facing malnutrition because of climate change induced drought.”
Globally though estimates on a broader scale are being generated to give clarity to the impact global warming is affecting humanity. According to expert estimates, climate change is already being linked to 400 000 premature deaths globally. Between 2030 and 2050 there will even be an additional 250 000 deaths. There is a 20 percent expected increase in hunger due to climate change.
Since 2008, 26.4 million people have already been displaced due to weather-related disasters globally. The right to water, sanitation and health is set to be severely affected by a temperature increase higher than 2 degrees Celsius. One billion people will face a severe reduction in water resources with 23 percent of the population in central sub-Saharan Africa set to face increased risk of death and poor health the numbers are set to even worse in South Asia where 62 percent of people will be similarly affected. The extent of the full impact of a changing climate is however still to be fully appreciated globally and worse in Zimbabwe, said local environmentalist Moses Chimedza. “We are still a long way from fully comprehending the full extent of how the environment affects humanity,” Chimedza said.