CONFERENCE ON LARGE SCALE NATURAL DISASTERS IN TOHOKU

COMMENTS BY THE HON DR I.M.C. CHOMBO: THE ZIMBABWE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, URBAN AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT DURING SESSION 4 OF THE HIGH LEVEL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LARGE SCALE NATURAL DISASTERS IN TOHOKU, JAPAN: 3 -4 JULY 2012

1.0 Introduction
Zimbabwe views global climate change as a serious issue though our contribution to global green house gas (GHG) emissions is insignificant. Strategies are underway to mitigate and adapt to climate change as the country is affected by global warming.

Zimbabwe was one of the first countries to sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and also ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2009. On 15 Sept 2012, Heads of Ministries recommended that a National Task Team on Climate Change be established to provide policy guidance on climate change and to develop a climate change strategy. The task team was established in Feb 2012 under the chairmanship of the Office of the President in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The membership is drawn from Government ministries and parastatals, scientific research institutions, tertiary institutions, private sector, business community and civil society. My Ministry, through the Department of Civil Protection, is an active member of the task force.

2.0 Four sectors adversely affected by climate change:
(i) Water - since 2007 there has been a notable decrease in water inflows in rivers. Some rivers which used to be perennial (Save, Mazowe, Manyame, Runde) are now seasonal.

Implications
• Increased insecurity on water supplies;
• Increased demand on water for irrigation;
• Increased pollution concentration due to low dilution factors – reduced quality and quantity of water;
• Increase in extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. Floods cause mass population displacement, destruction of the built environment, infrastructure, crops and water borne diseases and
• Increased potential for disharmony at sub national, national and sub regional levels due to claims and counter claims for limited water resources.

Adaptation strategies
• Capture and store excess water in times of flooding and release of same in times of drought
• Investing in irrigation infrastructure
• Recycling of municipal water
• Relocation of people living in flood prone areas

(ii) Agriculture - the annual average temperature has increased by about 0.4 degrees Celsius between 1900 and 2000. Rainfall has declined by about 8% with mid season dry spells and periodic shift in the onset of rains. The national level average seasonal rainfall has declined by 7.5% since the beginning of the century.
The majority of households depend on rain fed agriculture. Late onset of rains affects planning for two cycles of crops, that is, the maize summer crop and the winter wheat crop, leading to decreased agricultural production hence food insecurity. An increase in temperatures causes heat stress in animals under intensive production systems (such as dairy cattle, pigs and poultry) hence reduced production.

Forests
The evergreen forests may be reduced to seasonal forests while the drier regions may approach desertification.

Adaptation strategies
• Staggered planting of crops
• Conservation agriculture
• Irrigation development
• Promotion of indigenous crops and livestock species that are tolerant to the environment
• Development of insurance schemes

(iii) Health - malaria has spread to new zones (from low lying areas to highlands). A tropical disease, sleeping sickness, once thought to have been eradicated has resurfaced. There is also an increase in respiratory diseases namely acute respiratory infection (ARI) and asthma. High temperatures are causing an increase in disease vectors such as house flies, rodents and cockroaches. Poor quality of drinking water and insufficient quantity cause poor sanitation leading to diarrhoeal diseases.

Adaptation
Strengthening health systems, disease surveillance and education of the public .

(iv) Energy - over 70% of green house gas (GHG) emissions are from the energy sector (electricity generation, direct combustion, liquid fuels). Zimbabwe’s contribution to global green house gas emissions (GHG) emissions (in tonnes per capita) mostly from the energy sector is 0.7 which is below the global average of 6.7. The other sectors are industry (15%), transport (12%) agriculture (11%), commercial (10%) and mining etc (4%).

3.0 Challenges
• Inadequate resources for the development of adaptation strategies that can mitigate the diverse and complex impact of climate change
• Mobilization of funds for various projects – Zimbabwe has not gained much from the Global Environmental Facility, World Bank or International Finance Corporation due to economic sanctions imposed on the country by the EU and other western countries.
• Limited high level consultation and information sharing with other regional and international groups to embrace best practices.

I thank you.

Dr I.M.C. Chombo (MP)
Minister of Local Government Urban & Rural Development

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