Zimbabwe’s climate change department a beacon of hope

The US$10 million grant secured by the Climate Change Management Department from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) two weeks ago may be the biggest funding obtained by the young Government unit yet, towards climate change adaptation in parts of Zimbabwe.

The funding is for a project called “Integrated Climate Risk Management for Food Security and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe focusing on Masvingo and Rushinga Districts.” This is significant because it is the first such large-scale approval by the GCF, or anyone else, dedicated to neutralising the effects of climate change in Zimbabwe. Up to 102 000 people in the targeted rural areas are expected to benefit from the intervention.

The news would have easily sailed beneath the radar in local major news publications. It is hardly surprising. Mainstream media still considers environment or climate change news coverage as a soft topic, unfit for the front page, unless the news event involved a disaster of some sort, the scale of Cyclone Idai or similar.

But to do so would be to view the climate change crisis from a narrow perspective, for here is a crisis that fortunately or unfortunately does not discriminate. Journalists, media managers and owners will be exposed to the dangerous effects of climate change at some level, perhaps just as much as the impoverished farmer in rural Rushinga, where the latest GCF grant aims to help subsistence farmers cope with climate change.

Climate change communication remains one of the key cornerstones to delivering realistic change in a world hooked on fossil fuels, intoxicated by politics and yet paralysed by hunger, disease, poverty and war. The media bridges the gap between knowledge and ignorance, action and inaction.

Away from the public glare, the Climate Change Management Department under the leadership of Mr Washington Zhakata, a career environmentalist, has since its formation six years ago emerged as a department totally committed to its burdens, scarcely deterred by its shoe-string budget.

It is perhaps one of the standout Government departments in recent years, having achieved so much in so little time, with just about 10 fulltime staff, proding the crevices of donor/aid capital to help those most in need of it back home. Below is an excerpt of an interview with Mr Zhakata, director of climate change in the Ministry of Climate, discussing some of the work they are doing. I am represented as JG and Mr Zhakata as WZ.

JG: Can you give us a brief outline of the milestones that the department has reached so far since its formation?

WZ: Since its formation in 2013, the Department has developed a National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) (2014) which aims to mainstream climate change across all sectors of the economy. This strategy has relevant climate change mitigation and adaptation actions for all sectors of the economy.

In 2017, the Department developed the National Climate Policy to provide the over-arching framework to implement the NCCRS. The purpose of the National Climate Policy is to guide climate change management in the country, enhance the national adaptation capacity, scale up mitigation actions, and facilitate domestication of climate related global policies and ensure compliance to the multi-lateral climate change frameworks.

Also in 2017 the Department working with Department of Agriculture Education and Farmer Training and Green Impact Trust published a, “Climate Smart Agriculture Manual for Agriculture Education in Zimbabwe”. The manual has been adopted for training student extension officers at agricultural colleges like Chibhero and Gwebi as well as in-service training of agricultural extension officers that are already serving at district and ward levels.

The Department serves as the focal point for the multi-lateral climate change finance and technological mechanisms. To date the Department has mobilised resources from the Green Climate Fund as follows:

US$3 million GCF National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Readiness facility, this is a 3 year project 2019 to 2021 to facilitate development of a national climate change adaptation plan to inform better responses to the changing climate in view of the country’s vulnerability,

US$300 000 GCF Readiness Facility, this is a country allocation to strengthen its capacity to develop bankable projects for climate change adaptation and mitigation, through trainings and institutional strengthening. The fund is being used to engage stakeholders through training, awareness and developing a pipeline of projects for submission to the GCF Secretariat for consideration for funding,

Mobilised resources from the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) for developing the CSA Manual and conducting a pilot energy and water use efficiency audit for ten companies in Zimbabwe towards informing mitigation actions,

Secured a US$100 000 Climate Change Learning grant from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The project will start in 2020 and will focus on developing a climate change learning strategy and support climate change education, awareness and communication initiatives,

Recently the Department in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) successfully applied for a US$10 million grant from the Green Climate Fund under a project titled, “Integrated Climate Risk Management for Food Security and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe focusing on Masvingo and Rushinga Districts”. Implementation of the project is set to commence in 2020.

JG: How does the Department relate with other Government Ministries/Agencies/Depts an developmental organisations?

WZ: Cognisant of the cross-cutting nature of climate change, the Department involves all relevant stakeholders for consultative, planning, projects/programmes implementation. Further, we engage various stakeholders like Ministries to mainstream climate change issues in their policies and development strategies they may be crafting as well as implementing.

What would you say are the biggest challenges faced by the Department?

The biggest challenges faced by the Department include the following Limited manpower due to a small staff complement based at Head Office hence difficulty in reaching the most vulnerable populace and communities. Limited resources to extend the current projects to other areas which are equally vulnerable to climate change and scaling out the size of the projects currently running.

Source : The Herald

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