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Village Rhapsody: Climate change: a threat to food security and rural development in Zimbabwe

BY EVANS MATHANDA

Agriculture and food security systems are under threat from climate change in African countries due to lack of education in global or regional climate patterns.

Agriculture remains the backbone of the rural population, the only source of food security and sustainable livelihoods.  The obtaining temperature changes and weather patterns are, however, affecting the rural population badly, particularly women in subsistence farming.

In a global context of inequalities in which vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by the consequences of human actions on the planet, women are at the forefront of the crisis.

According to UN reports, women carry most of the burden caused by climate change. This vulnerability is the result of a series of social, economic and cultural factors.

But lack of knowledge on climate change has been an issue that needs attention in rural areas.

Zimbabwe’s National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) states that “Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity in our present day society”, at a time when many parts of the world are already facing environmental degradation, water shortages, poverty, food insecurity and inequality.

However, many citizens, environment activists, scientists and policy makers hope that if we rise to the challenge of climate change, it could become our best chance to make the world a better place.

Changes in global or regional climate patterns affect everyone, but not equally.

Some commercial farmers have learnt to adjust through research and development and access to information. Even the media does not give much prominence to climate change stories as compared to political stories.

There are very few editions where print media would put the climate change article on the front page. It’s very rare.

Inequitable distribution of resources causes imbalance that undermines people living in rural areas to access the resources, technology and information needed to adapt to the climate crisis.

A study focusing on the real consequences of climate change on rural farmers by the UN demonstrates a growing concern on the impact of climate change in rural areas. The government and civil society organisations must consider including climate change and its impacts into their human policies.

The global climate crisis affects the ability to access basic resources such as water. Water scarcity is a special risk factor in rural areas.

But before we talk about irrigation schemes and boreholes, there is a need to provide adequate information about climate change in rural Zimbabwe.

In countries like Brazil, water scarcity is also one of the main effects of climate change, and this affects rural populations in different ways.

Even if there are limited resources in the country, it is recommended to replicate what other countries are doing against climate change.

In some developed countries, environment activists are increasingly suing governments and organisations to take action against climate change.

A student from the southern German state of Bavaria David Schiepek, has been involved in climate activism for around three years, protesting and talking to politicians about the quest to fight against climate change.

A 2015 research by Agronomist Anna Brazier revealed that Zimbabwe has one of the most variable rainfall patterns in the world in terms of distribution across time and space, although dry spells and droughts are part of a normal cycle.

However, deforestation of our forests brings a series of incalculable damages to the environment and also to humanity and some parts in rural areas are directly affected.

Climate change is one of the critical issues and discussed topics across the world. But, the impact of climate change on agriculture and rural development remains a topical issue with little solutions today. The impacts of climate change are more visible in rural Zimbabwe.

Communities are experiencing food insecurity, water scarcity and loss of livestock due to lack of solid and useful information about the changes in weather patterns. Climate change has impacted negatively on agriculture, which is the main source of livelihood in Zimbabwe’s rural communities.

In most cases, higher temperatures increase crop failure, livestock loss and increasing food insecurity for human livelihoods are some of the major factors that rural populations experience due to climate change.

According to the World Bank 2019 report, the rural population constitutes 60% of the total population in Zimbabwe. Imagine if all these people are incorporated in climate change awareness campaigns, a development move that can improve food security in rural areas.

The nexus between climate change and human rights issues must be a national concern. Changes in weather patterns and rights knowledge is a critical topic worthy of pursuing especially in developing countries to fight against climate change. Various stakeholders like the government, civil society, labour organisations and the clergy should be on the forefront in the fight against climate change.

In Africa and other parts of the world, the impact of climate change on agriculture and rural development are already being felt. Disasters like Cyclone Idai forced displacements resulting in climate migrations and refugees.

  • Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his personal capacity. For feedback email: evanngoe@gmail.com or call 0719770038 and Twitter @EvansMathanda19

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