Zambia seek US$400m to mitigate climate change

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By Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - Zambia is seeking a staggering US$400 million in the next three years to mitigate climate change effects that have eroded its productivity base for various cereals and other crops.

Zambia has until recently been dubbed the breadbasket of the Southern African Development Community, producing a staggering three million tonnes of maize, less other crops like wheat, soya and others.

The climatic effects, which have resulted in drought and the emergence of various crop-eating pests, including stalk borers and armyworms, have seen the country lose an average of 33% of its original production rate, a development that government seeks to redress.

During the 2017/18 harvesting season, Zambia’s harvests for maize dropped to 2.4 million tonnes from an average 3.6 million tonnes produced a season earlier. This was chiefly on account of poor rainfall and armyworms that devastated various arable fields. National Designated Authority coordinator Mainga Luwabelwa has said the US$400 million forms part of Zambia’s strategic climate change strategy to protect the environment and loss of other resources as part of the national food security.

Recently, Zambia accessed US$84 million in grants from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to finance two projects in agriculture and energy. The funding was further to assist about one million smallholders’ farmers to improve their crop output amid perpetual threats on their crops through climatic change effects.

In the energy sector, the decreased rainfall experienced in the recent past resulted in reduced water levels in major water bodies. This has led to a power deficit and subsequent power rationing in a country that is largely dependent on hydropower.

This resulted in a loss of productivity in critical sectors of the economy including mining, manufacturing and agriculture. The government has since put in measures to address adverse effects of climate change, including the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Zambia has over the years depended on hydropower production to meet industrial and domestic energy demands. It has in recent years faced a backlash as climatic change effects took a toll on the economy.

The dip in energy availability has resulted in various national developmental programmes being frustrated, forcing the government to lose crops while shelving various energy developmental projects.

The government has since appealed to the private sector to join hands and venture into alternative sources of energy, including solar, biomass, geothermal, among other sources to bolster power production aimed to reach to 6,000 megawatts from over 3,000 megawatts being produced currently.

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