AFRICA must quickly come up with a unified climate change strategy although an international agreement has remained elusive, Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said.
Kasukuwere also said the task was more pressing and urgent now that climate issues, including global warming, was firmly rooted in the political arena nationally, regionally and internationally.
The call came as researches have established that the African continent has experienced more extreme weather events in recent years as global temperatures rise.
Kasukuwere was addressing delegates at the opening of the Second Task Force Meeting of African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (Amcomet) in Harare yesterday.
“Disasters, most of which are directly related to the vagaries of weather and increasing climate variability, are causing havoc and mayhem in our countries,” Kasukuwere said. “This is stifling the socio-econmic development of our continent, which is home to 33 of the world’s poorest countries (out of 48).”
He said the ministers responsible for weather and climate were now increasingly under pressure from citizens and counterparts in charge of vulnerable sectors, particularly those dependent on and responsible for agriculture, water, health, energy, disaster management, environment and transport, to enable them to execute their mandates.
Kasukuwere urged African climate ministers attending the week-long meeting to find ways of mobilising resources to fast-track mitigatory measures.
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) regional director for Africa and Least Developed Countries Joseph Mukabana also said the continent was on the front lines of climate change.
Mukabana said that had led to a draft version of what’s called The Implementation Plan of the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology.
“Africa is the most vulnerable continent when it comes to climate change. So, the priority in Africa is to adapt on climate change. You either adapt or die,” he said.
“The land degradation at coastal zones also ensures that the coastal zone habitat is interfered with. For example, in some areas you have mangrove forests being cut and yet mangrove forests were very good in conserving the environment at the coast. You have also the coral reefs being eroded. And yet the coral reef, if it is big enough, can form the first defence when the tsunamis come, for example. So we are destroying the coastal zone and that will impact on human beings also.”
It’s imperative, Mukabana said, to protect Africa’s coastlines.
To address the threat of climate change in Africa, the WMO and the African Union Commission convened a meeting in Nairobi in 2010 which was attended by almost 50 ministers from across the continent.
The meeting led to the Nairobi Declaration, a strategy document that is a mix of modern technology and scientific data and traditional knowledge, such as which crops were resistant to drought.