Monday, December 30, 2013

A Green Zambia?

According to a December 2012 International Food Policy Research Institute report on climate change in Zambia, agriculture accounts for about 20 percent of this southern African nation’s GDP, with jobs in the sector accounting for 71.6 percent of employment here. Maize is the country’s staple crop.

Joseph K. Kanyanga, chief meteorologist at the Zambia Meteorological Department, tells IPS that weather patterns in Zambia have changed.
“Temperatures nowadays are higher than the 1950s; both maximum and minimum temperatures are showing a warming trend. As for rainfall, though there is uncertainty. There is an evident shift in the onset and end of the rainy season. The start of the rainy season shows the pronounced shift; at times starting as late as mid-December for most parts of Zambia,” Kanyanga says.

The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), which has over 15,000 members, is worried about the changing climate.
"Yes, we have received reports about the erratic rainfall from both commercial and small-scale farmers. Right now, farmers in Kabwe [the capital of Central Province and Zambia’s second-largest city] are still holding on to their seeds. They are scared of planting because of the [erratic] rains. This is alarming: it will cause food insecurity due to crop failure because we are talking about predominantly rain-fed agriculture practiced mostly by small-scale farmers who make up more than 80 percent of farmers in Zambia,” Sishekana Makweti, the ZNFU manager for gender, environment and forestry, tells IPS.

. Zambia, however, has no national climate change policy but there are currently parliamentary consultations for the formulation of one.

Robert Chimambo, an environmental advocate and a board member of the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), an umbrella body of environmental civil society organisations, feels that the government needs to do more to manage the country’s water resources.

“Forests play a critical role in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. Deforestation is contributing a lot to variability in rainfall patterns. You know trees help in seeping surface runoff water and recharging our underground water. Forests also help in rain formation through transpiration. Therefore, you can’t effectively manage your water resources without conserving your forests,” he tells IPS.

He was referring to the fact the site for the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ), a government-driven project to promote foreign and domestic investment, lies within a former forest reserve known as Forest 26, which is located southwest of Lusaka.

Chimambo says that in the past, the forests reserves around Lusaka were protected by law and industries had previously not been allowed to operate within them.

“Sadly, the proposed location of the Multi Facility Economic Zone in Forest Reserve 26 will mean the destruction and degradation of the forest, which is right on top of the Lusaka aquifer. This would also mean poisoning the rivers and the ground water. How do you adapt to climate change and manage your water resources when such things are taking place?” Chimambo says.

According to a joint Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and Zambian government report, the country’s forests cover 66 percent of the total landmass, though only 9.6 percent of these forests are protected.

“Currently, 65 percent of Zambia’s population is in rural areas, their livelihoods essentially tied to the land and forests. Increased demand for food, wood energy, and other environmental services [to cater for the growing population] has contributed to decrease in forest areas. Between 1990 and 2010, the Forestry Department lost 126,912 hectares through degazettions [legal reclassification], but not a single hectare was added to the protected forests as new reservations over the same period,” the report states.

Why does climate change occur? A small amount is due to ignorance or miscalculation. A small amount is unavoidable given present technology and population. But the greatest cause is due to the economic system. Global warming takes place  because it is in business economic interests to do so.

We live in a world which has the potential to adequately feed, house and provide clean water and decent medical care for every single man, woman and child on Earth. The resources exist to banish material want as a problem for members of the human race. Yet millions throughout the world are malnourished, live in squalor or are actually dying of starvation or starvation-related diseases. The big question that faces the human race is what can be done about it?

The things that are desperately needed –food, clean water, housing, sanitation, transport, medical services and so on, can only be provided by useful labour, of which there is an abundance throughout the world. Finance is part of a system which operates as a barrier to useful labour producing what people need. Useful production must be freed from the constraints of profit and class interest. Only useful labour applied through world cooperation once the Earth’s resources have become the common heritage of all can solve the problems of world poverty.

World socialism could stop the dying from hunger immediately, and provide the conditions for good health and material security for all people across the Earth within a short time. It would do this by producing goods and services directly for need.

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