Climate Change a threat to Zambia’s economic growth

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The Zambian Government has estimated that the impact of climate change will cost the nation approximately 0.4 percent of annual economic growth if no action is taken to address the serious threats, reports Clinton Masumba.

National Development planning Minister Lucky Mulusa has indicated that rainfall variability alone could lead to losses of 0.9 percent of GDP growth over the next decade, thereby keeping a significant section of Zambia’s population below the poverty line.

Zambia has been experiencing effects of climate change resulting in extreme weather conditions, such as droughts, rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns. The frequency and intensity of climate events is expected to rise in future, with negative impact on the economy and consequently people’s livelihoods.

In its 7th National Development Plan, Zambia has placed Agriculture as a priority to help grow the economy moving away from mining which has been the country’s major stay of the economy.

However, this may never be realised without addressing threats Climate Change is posing. Despite the many policy statements, Climate change management efforts have not been aligned with mainstream development processes in Zambia.

This has largely been attributed to a shortage of human, technical and institutional capacity in the field of climate change and adaptation. Knowledge gaps have been identified as a particular barrier to the mainstreaming of climate change risks into agricultural planning.

Zambia has not done any economic assessments on the value of improved climate risk information for the protection and improvement of livelihoods, which limits understanding of how much to invest in climate information services.

The growth of Zambia’s economy will largely depend on the Agriculture sector, which government is heavily investing in but without addressing climate change, the reality is farfetched. Threats of Climate Change remain a stumbling block to Zambia’s economic growth.

For instance, the fall in the country’s hydro-power generation in the recent period by about 600 Megawatts has mainly been attributed to poor rainfall patterns. The lower supply of electricity has hampered growth prospects of Zambia’s productive sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and mining.

Climate Change Activist Musosha Mweelwa is however deeply concerned that despite the effects being so visible very little seems to be done to help reduce the impact in the near future.

Mr Mweelwa is of the view that government sets aside a considerable amount towards fighting effects of Climate Change in the 2018 National Budget if the economy is to record positive growth.

“Climate Change finance is a huge challenge not only for Zambia but other countries across the globe too, African countries need to realise that they have the capacity to reduce the impact of Climate Change by mainstreaming into development the activities, as government presents the 2018 national budget, a considerable amount should be allocated to programs aimed at fighting threats of climate change.” He said.

However increasing demand for wood and wood products has exerted pressure on natural forest resources throughout the world, including in Zambia. These resources are currently under threat due to many factors, the most important being clearing of forest land for agricultural production.

Meanwhile, the Zambia Government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has placed a ban on the export of all timber species.

The minister in charged Jean Kapata said the move was necessitated by the need to curb rapid deforestation arising from illegal timber harvesting. Between 2000 and 2014 Zambia lost an average of 276 000 hectares of forest per year.

And the European Union (EU) has advised African Countries to develop ambitious policies aimed at tackling Climate Change.

Speaking when she addressed Journalists from across Africa who attended a Workshop on Climate Change Organized by Climate Tracker in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, EU Deputy Head of Delegation Terhi Lehtinen said African countries needed to take seriously threats of Climate Change.

She said taking a new approach towards addressing climate change threats offers great opportunities that will come with economic growth in respective countries.

Lehtinen stated that tackling Climate Change is not a responsibility for governments alone but calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

“We are encouraging African countries to start implementing Climate Change policy plans, because we are aware that this will also help in job creation for local people in the respective Countries” Lehtinen said.

Climate change has emerged as one of the world’s greatest developmental challenges in the 21st century. Across the globe climate change has caused serious damage to the environment and to human life in general. According to expert assessments, global warming is expected to have worst impacts in Africa, South and West Asia; suggesting that developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change than developed countries.

 

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