THE Government should consider setting up a budget for proofing the environment against climate change as the country is frequently caught unprepared to deal with climate change-induced hazards, a senior official has said.
In an interview, the Director of Climate Change Management in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Washington Zhakata, said the country needs a resettlement assessment programme to benefit victims of natural disasters.
Binga district is the latest to be hit by the natural phenomenon after Nsungwane villagers under Chief Sinakoma were last week hit by flash floods affecting 181 households.
Government has said it will relocate the victims to safer zones.
Mr Zhakata said climate change was severely affecting the country due to increased floods, cyclones and drought but there are limited funds to deal with the perennial environmental problems.
“We need to mainstream climate change even up to our budgeting because it is not there. There is no demonstration of climate change mainstreaming in our budget. As a country, we need to know where we are settled and as a department, we are yet to receive funds that will enable us to carry out a thorough assessment of people in settlements and identify safe havens where they can be resettled in case there is a problem of flooding. We haven’t done that,” said Mr Zhakata.
He said the department was working on a climate change strategy which will result in issues on the subject being adopted even in schools to improve protection of the environment.
Mr Zhakata said his department has observed that communities were conducting dangerous practices that were also contributing to effects of climate change.
He said incessant power cuts have increased deforestation and were a factor in climate change.
Mr Zhakata said low water inflows into the country’s dams can be blamed on failure to properly manage the environment.
“But what is critical for Zimbabwe is to take the issue of land utilisation very seriously and ensure that we sustainably utilise land and stop deforestation because our rivers are silting at an alarming rate. We don’t see most of the rivers flowing because of this siltation that is a result of unsustainable utilisation of land itself. Over and above climate change, there is a factor of us human beings not utilising land properly,” said Mr Zhakata.
“Because of power shortages, people are now embarking on deforestation which is clearing vast amounts of land for firewood and in some instances for agricultural productivity, for curing tobacco and curing some of the seeds. The land that we leave bare allows wind to move freely, gather momentum and be strong. We need to encourage afforestation and reforestation and ensure that we don’t subject ourselves to land degradation in the catchment areas.”
He said improved strategising on climate change issues would prevent reactive responses in case of disasters.