By Pamenus Tuso
Climate change poses real threat to human survival on this planet.
Yet, the youths, as the future generation, remain on the periphery of the (climate change) mitigation and adaptation conversation, particularly in Africa.
With devastating natural disasters due to global warming on the increase, the government or any other organisation for that matter, can no longer afford to ignore young people in their programming.
It is probably with this realisation that the government through the Ministries of Environment, Water and Climate, Energy and Power Development as well as that of Primary and Secondary Education, came up with the “Supporting Enhanced Climate Action for Low Carbon, Climate Resilient Development Pathway Project.”
The project which is being funded by the UNDP in five of the most vulnerable districts of Zimbabwe is focusing on issues around renewable energy, disaster risk reduction and climate smart agriculture.
”One of the key objectives of this programme is to promote climate change awareness among key stakeholders such as schools, parliamentarians, business associations and CSOs.
Various stakeholders are also expected to undertake pilot climate change mitigation and adaptation projects as well as put in place systems for energy and information generation established for informed policy and development planning,” said Nompumelelo Chigwinya, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) district officer, in Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge southern border district.
As part of the campaign, EMA and the Climate Change Management Department launched the Schools Climate Change Education Awareness Campaign Programme at Nuli secondary school in the district.
It was not by coincidence that this programme was launched in the district, where the glaring impact of climate change is evident everywhere.
“Climate change in Beitbridge is a reality. We have just come from Cyclone Dineo and its effects on Matabeleland South have been devastating. Currently, we are doing a survey on its impact but we noticed that during the height of the cyclone, a number of children in the province were not able to attend lessons,” said Tumisang Thabela, Matabeleland South education director.
Thabela said between 15 to 20 percent of schools in the province were affected by the cyclone with secondary schools being the most affected.
“The infrastructure at most boarding schools, including water reticulation systems have been destroyed,” she said.
The education director said there is need to review the current education curriculum so that climate change issues can be incorporated.
“We need to have a relook on the curriculum so that it is compatible with climate change issues. Children and teachers need to be capacitated on new information and trends in climate change. There should be regular refresher courses for teachers on climate change so that they are prepared both to mitigate and adapt to the phenomenon,” said Thabela.
Beloved Sithole, the Forestry Commission’s Beitbridge district officer, said one of the major environmental issues affecting the district is deforestation which is driven by wood gathering for fuel and land clearing.
“In both Beitbridge and Gwanda districts, the annual rate of deforestation is the highest in communal lands. In these two districts, firewood poachers tend to evade arrests by transporting firewood at night or selling it during weekends when patrols are limited,” said Sithole.
Sithole said the Forestry Commission is supporting the schools climate change education awareness campaign programme through facilitating the establishment of mostly indigenous seedling nurseries in schools.
Under this programme, Sithole said the commission has targeted a total of 50 000 trees which will be planted this year in the district.
Sithole said the parastatal, as part of its efforts to promote renewable energy and curb deforestation, is encouraging local communities and schools to use alternative sources of energy.
“Schools especially boarding ones, can use biogas, solar, hydro or wind energy for generating power. That is the only way we can preserve our forests and the environment,” said Sithole.
“Apart from this, we are also carrying out numerous environmental awareness on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Some of the measures include land use planning, training workshops, field days demonstrations as well as regulatory control,” he said.
Sithole added that the Commission is also working with other stakeholders such as traditional leaders, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), EMA and the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to curb deforestation.
“We are mounting regular roadblocks and arresting wood poachers. Under this combined operation, illegally harvested wood products are confiscated and the poachers are arrested,” said Sithole.