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Continually growing human and industrial activities have caused dramatically increased emissions of greenhouse gases, which in turn cause the global climate to change rapidly and probably irreversibly.

Speaking in an interview, Colin Mutasa, a climate change expert with Environment Africa described climate change as a long shift in weather patterns and temperatures globally.

“Climate change, also called global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on earth. Climate change is the change of climate attributed directly to human activities that alters the composition of global atmosphere,” said Mutasa.

Mutasa said many people always ask him why we should care about the global temperatures.

“Apparently climate change is not waiting on the time tables of diplomats for them to sit and deliberate on issues because it is happening now. When we burn fossil fuels, especially coal energy or use our land unsustainably, we pollute the atmosphere with green house gases which subsequently drive temperatures high,” said Mutasa.

He said this leads to many of the climate change impacts already being seen around the world, such as those prolonged heat waves, floods and the droughts.

An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due primarily to human use of fossil fuels which releases carbon dioxide and green house gases to the air. The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on ecosystems, including the rising sea levels, severe weather patterns and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wild fires.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, Halldor Thorgeirsson, UNFCCC Secretariat, AWG-LCA Chair Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, Zimbabwe, Daniel Klein, UNFCCC Secretariat, and AWG-LCA Vice-Chair Dan Reifsnyder, US

An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due, primarily to human use of fossil fuels which releases carbon dioxide and green house gases to the air. The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on ecosystems, including the rising sea levels, severe weather patterns and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wild fires.

There is a broad based agreement within the scientific community that climate change is real. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concur that climate change is indeed occurring and is almost certainly due to human activity.

Reports from the 21st United Nations Climate Conference revealed that, Africa accounts for 3.8% of the global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, compared to 23% of China, 19% of the United States and 13%, for the European Union. As a result, the international treaty to address climate change, called the Paris Agreement, entered into force in October 2016, with news that the European Union, joined the United States of America, China, India and dozens of other countries ratifying.

Pupils navigated a swamp on reed-rafts to get to school at Katuit primary in Chesesoi village on the shores of the Kenyan rift valley’s Lake Baringo, March 14, 2014. A few dozen students at the school were cut-off by the swelling lake that rose to reclaim plains from which it had receded more than a decade ago, according to residents, and were forced to travel through swamps rife with submerged vegetation, hippo and crocodile to get to their weather-prone classrooms.
Photo: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

This happened sooner than anyone imagined when the deal was struck in December, giving the world hope that global leaders are serious about dealing with climate change, challenge. At the Paris Climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first seven universal, legally binding global deal.

Governments agreed to a long term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; to aim to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impact of climate change. Governments also agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries; to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the available science.

Africa is most vulnerable to climate change and its effects. Recently, Sub-Saharan countries including Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia, experienced unpredictable weather patterns occasioned by the Elnino phenomenon in 2015-2016. This was followed by a tropical cyclone Dineo, which left a trail of destruction to infrastructure, livestock and people’s lives earlier this year.

Workers preparing fields to grow corn, Gutu project irrigation site. Credit DAVID_WHITE

In Zimbabwe climate change has already begun to show its adverse impacts. For example there is less rainfall in the region, and the soil is sandy and low in nutrients.

Youth and Climate Change expert in Zimbabwe, Archiford Chimhere, says in earlier years, smallholder agriculture functioned acceptably with the use of fallow ground.

“This is no longer possible due to the prolonged dry spells, inadequate irrigation systems and overuse of the land. The poor quality of the soil is due to droughts, inferior seed and deforestation, among other things, and has resulted in a drastic fall in crop yield in the past few years,” said Chimhere.

As a result, Zimbabwe had to import about 98% maize grain from other countries like Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, in 2015-2016 farming season due to the Elnino phenomenon drought.

There has been lively speculation among experts about the impact of climate change on agriculture in Zimbabwe. In the process, the poor harvests of recent years have been linked to the rise in temperature and to aridity of the climate. The rise in temperature in the last century of almost 0.5 degrees Celsius lies below the global average of 0.74 degrees Celsius, but has already caused devastating losses that have resulted to droughts.

A woman collects water in Mali. Mali has experienced severe drought in recent years causing a crisis.

Upon the realisation of the challenges posed by climate change in Zimbabwe, the government created a Climate Change Management Department, embarked on the development of policy and strategy documents to address climate change challenges in the country. In 2013 the Zimbabwean government launched a cluster based economic blue print, known as the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable, Socio and Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), which provides a clear and coherent plan to achieve sustainable development and tackle climate change in its food and Nutrition Security as well as Infrastructure and Utilities cluster.

A climate change perspective on cropping and animal production in semi-arid regions in Matabeleland South, Miss Trinity Senda Ndlovu, stationed at Matopos Institution of Research in Zimbabwe, revealed that the effects of climate change are real and there is a need to come up with adaptation strategies to mitigate against climate change.

“Our institution is working with farmers to implement outcomes of research that we have done on four provinces of Zimbabwe, on the impacts of climate change to livestock. We have discovered that due to climate change there has been high mortality rate of livestock hence we teach farmers to destock, to make use of paddocks, to keep stock feeds for their animals and also to introduce new breeds such as Brahman types to their kraals,” said Miss Ndlovu.

Lungelo Ndhlovu

About Lungelo Ndhlovu

LUNGELO NDHLOVU is an award winning freelance multi-media journalist based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. http://www.chronicle.co.zw/chronicle-pair-wins-mining-awards/ He specializes in news writing, photography and video production, covering major news, features and local events for various media organizations. He also researches and writes about news stories on digital platforms and visual journalism. He contributes Feature stories for Zimbabwe Papers Organisation (The Chronicle) http://www.chronicle.co.zw Ndhlovu is also Reuters Foundation Trust (TRF) ‘Following the Aid Money’ Investigative Reporting Program Alumni (2016) http://www.trust.org