Climate change and disasters; time for southern Africa to develop new tools to build resilience
Harare, Zimbabwe, October 24, 2019 (ECA) – Southern Africa needs to act now and build capacity within member States to urgently build the resilience of economies in the region, infrastructures, ecosystems and communities so they can withstand impacts of climate change.
This was said Thursday by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Perrance Shiri, in remarks to a three-day planning workshop for climate resilient investment in reconstruction and development in cyclone affected regions of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Mr. Shiri said given the reality of ever worsening weather and climate related disasters in the region, action was needed to ensure citizens and infrastructure were protected from climate change-induced impacts.
Between 2018 and 2019, devastating floods, including Cyclone Idai, affected the whole sub region from Angola to Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth left the three countries with devastating impacts. In Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, more than 1 000 people lost their lives, whilst hundreds of thousands remained in need of aid, following the devastating battering by Cyclone Idai.
Mr. Shiri said Africa’s economies, ecosystems and societies are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and variability, but have the least capacity to cope and adapt to climate impacts.
“We need to now urgently build the resilience of our economies, our infrastructures, our ecosystems and our communities to withstand the impacts of climate change,” the Minister said.
“Resilience building requires that we develop capacities to mainstream weather and climate information into development planning and practice, that we retrofit our infrastructure and settlements to the new climate reality, and that we mobilize the necessary resources to minimize the impact of climate change of our economic and social development.”
Mr. Shiri continued: “The time is now for capacity building, for experience sharing, for raising awareness, for taking this sour reality into account when planning for our development program. If not, in our own eyes, decades of sustainable development gains can be wiped out overnight.
Yesterday is history, let’s take today and build strong and resilient futures.”
He commended the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its partners for organizing the workshop, allowing the three affected countries to discuss, share experiences and best practices in effective preparedness and management of recurrent climate induced disasters such as the cyclone IDAI.
The workshop is deliberating options for “Building Back Better”, paying special attention to the need to improve resilience through improved weather and climate forecasting; integration of climate information into infrastructure, ecosystems and settlement plans; capacity building for the use of Socio-Economic Benefits (SEB) models for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR); and innovative financing for reconstruction and climate sensitive infrastructure planning.
Mr. Shiri said he was pleased to note that the workshop would begin a process that ‘will accelerate our deployment and use of climate information and services in post cyclone reconstruction for the affected communities of all the three countries, but also develop partnerships for sharing knowledge and experiences on how best to mainstream climate information in order to build the resilience of not only the three countries affected by the cyclones, but the whole of the SADC region’.
Over 100 people are attending the workshop, including representatives from the three countries, other SADC countries, the SADC Climate Services Centre, Regional Economic Communities, regional and international partners, including the UN family.
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