New technology is key in averting climate change disasters
OnlineReporter AFRICAN governments should invest in new technology and geospatial urban and rural renewal to avert climate change induced disasters.
These include droughts, floods and some diseases like cholera that are a result of historical colonial imbalances where settler regimes moved blacks to low lying prone areas.
This was said by Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo on Wednesday as he officiated at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) workshop for disaster risk management practitioners from across Sadc in Victoria Falls.
The workshop which is being attended by representatives of various ministries, agencies, climate change specialists, disaster management and emergency units and academia from Sadc member States as well as non-governmental organisation partners, started Tuesday and will end on Friday.
It was organised to capacitate member States and relevant stakeholders with knowledge and skills to strengthen disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and mitigation in communities for sustainable development in Southern Africa and strengthen early warning systems through harmonised policies.
The IOM, a United Nations (UN) migration agency, is funding the workshop through the Africa Regional Migration Programme in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe.
Hazards and natural disasters have been on the increase in most African countries as a result of climate change, and a majority of them are hydro-meteorological, droughts and floods, landslides, cyclones, and wildfires.
Participants concurred that there is a nexus between natural disasters and man-made disasters due to interaction hence relocation and migration of affected people should be based on research, to avoid relocating people every year.
Minister Moyo who was guest of honour said the risk factors of countries in Southern Africa in terms of hazards which are induced by climate change are well known and there is need to integrate activities as Sadc and link centres so that all the information is available.
He said the war of liberation was fought for independence and to regain land as well as democratic rights for blacks from the hands of the few whites, and now was time for correcting imbalances that together with climate change, impact on people through disasters.
The Minister commended IOM for being at the centre of climate change and helping countries to deepen understanding about adaptation.
“There is vulnerability, populations affected and poverty induced on people but what is not being analysed in Southern Africa is that the history of colonialism particularly in terms of spatial planning has impacted heavily on what happens when we have droughts and heavy rains.
“When people were moved from higher places because the land there belonged to colonizers and pushed to low lying areas, and now when climate change occurred, you are impacted more than those who are on high ground and in areas where there is flora,” said Minister Moyo.
He said Zimbabwe only realised these imbalances through the land reform programme which western countries also were opposed to and is now pushing an urban and rural settlement renewal agenda where settlements in low lying areas and in disaster prone areas are being redone and climate proofed to protect people.
“That is our historical fact that our fertile land was taken by European colonialists and when there is drought and heavy rain we are impacted more. For Zimbabwe we have realised this due to our land reform.
“Even in our urban areas which were planned with racial discrimination, those who live in high density and low density areas are impacted differently. So in a case like Zimbabwe, when we are now looking at urban areas, you can see that those in high density areas are impacted on by drought which causes cholera and other diseases,” said Minister Moyo.
He implored disaster management practitioners to pursue science and direct Government on policy impacts to take.
The Minister said climate change induced disasters linked to historical causes are not unique to Zimbabwe as some communities in Malawi were settled on mountain slopes and now being affected by landslides.
He urged Sadc Governments to use new technologies and geospatial instruments in new planning and also to invest in early warning systems.
He said Zimbabwe has since invested in urban renewal and enhanced emergency recovery programme that needs implementation.
“We have to make hard decisions and our President has said let’s have this enhanced Cabinet committee which is chaired by the Vice President (Chiwenga) and we have mapped every urban area and rural areas and we have seen that the vulnerable areas both in urban and rural areas were historical in the sense that the spatial planning that was taking place displaced our people from high ground to low lying ground.
“In case of rural areas, these were areas with infertile soil and when we have rains they tend to damage households and now with our geospatial mapping we know where these areas are. Government decided we are going to take hard decisions as we do urban renewal where we are saying some of the townships need to be redone and move people so we are not impacted as we reorganize our settlements,” he said.
IOM Zimbabwe protection specialist Mr Leonard Kamwendo said between 2013 and 2023 disasters have increased each year and this is sign that weather conditions and climate are changing hence there is need for interventions