‘Let’s sharpen long term strategies against droughts’ In an interview with journalists here ahead of tomorrow’s Africa Day commemorations, President Mnangagwa, who officiated at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone to mark the commencement of the construction of the Mosi-oa-Tunya International Cricket Stadium in Victoria Falls yesterday, said for Africa to realise Agenda 2063, pillars related to science, technology and innovations should be adopted.

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

The SADC region will scale-up the implementation of bold actions to mitigate the effects of climate change-induced disasters, to ensure its people are cushioned from the adverse effects of droughts, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said the region will build robust adaptation measures coupled with long-term resilience to prepare for future weather shocks.

Yesterday, the regional bloc convened a virtual extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government, which tackled the El Nino-induced drought.

SADC leaders launched a US$5,5 billion humanitarian appeal to cater for over 60 million people in need of food aid in the region.

Addressing the summit, President Mnangagwa said it was important that SADC increases its capacity to produce sufficient food to feed the region in light of the drought.

He said investments in agriculture should equally be increased as it was the anchor of member states’ respective economies.

“Collectively, it is urgent and imperative that we scale up the implementation of bold actions to mitigate the effects of climate change-induced disasters and build robust adaptation measures as well as long-term resilience.

“Agriculture being the anchor to the economies of our countries, entails that investments in sustainable agricultural practices and food systems are critical priority areas for our region.

“Focus must remain on increasing our capacities to produce adequate food to feed our people, in spite of climate change.

“The need to enhance water harvesting infrastructure, invest in efficient irrigation systems and speed up the regional fertiliser programme, cannot be over emphasised.” 

President Mnangagwa said it was imperative that vulnerable communities are supported in adapting to climate change-induced phenomena, particularly de-risking women and children from malnutrition. “Supporting vulnerable communities in adapting to the ever-changing climate, is equally important. Hence, aspects related to de-risking children and women against malnutrition, due to sporadic weather patterns, should see us promote responsive nutrition interventions, including the cultivation of drought resistant traditional grains. No one and no place must be left behind.”

In the case of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa said his administration had since rolled out an array of pro-active and production-driven interventions as part of the country’s drought mitigation and adaptation strategies. He said climate change early warning systems and a raft of other preventative measures were in place.

“In this respect, Zimbabwe has adopted a wheat-based food security matrix, which taps into our comparative and competitive advantage in growing wheat during winter seasons.

“We look ahead to future seasons with optimism, anchored by our increased dam capacity and land under irrigation. Science, technology and extensive mechanisation, as well as improved seed varieties, will continue to be deployed to bolster agriculture production and productivity. A new Strategic Grain Reserve concept has been adopted.

“In creating the right institutions to drive our mitigation and adaptation strategies, we have transformed our Agricultural Rural Development Agency as a strategic institution to become the ‘food, feed, fibre and seed’ security agent for our country,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said SADC’s demonstration of unity in responding to the impacts of the El-Nino-induced drought was commendable and “a step in the right direction”.

“It is critically important that, we not only sharpen and strengthen our long- term strategies, but that we also embed our strategies within our institutions and local communities, towards mitigating the adverse negative effects of climate change in a more sustainable way.

“Further, we must expedite the operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre, to facilitate the efficient coordination of our regional disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery programmes.

“Our region’s coordinated approach to manage and respond to the impacts of the 2023/24 El-Niño-induced drought and related tropical cyclones is a step in the right direction,” he said.

The President commended the regional bloc for convening the summit, saying it had come at an opportune time. He reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s commitment to playing its part towards the bloc’s mitigation efforts.

“The resultant climate-induced disasters have led to food insecurity, loss of lives, livelihoods and the displacement of our peoples.

“Public health hazards and extensive damage to infrastructure and property, have also been witnessed in our respective countries.

“May I therefore, express my appreciation to our Secretariat for the commendable job it has done in preparing the draft humanitarian appeal, tabled for our consideration. More so that climate-induced natural disasters have become a trans-boundary threat, which undermines our region’s overall economic growth developmental efforts,” he said.

SADC chairman and Angolan President Angola João Lourenço said it was important that the bloc works in coherence for the greater good.

“We are all committed to making a profound reflection of the urgent need to act in a coherent and active way so that we can continue to preserve the climate because we are talking about the common good and we have to pay due attention to it,” he said.

SADC Executive Secretary Mr Elias Magosi said collective action should continue being taken so that livelihoods of the vulnerable in the region are preserved. 

“Our region faces a catastrophic humanitarian situation, emanating from the negative impacts of the El Nino-induced drought and other climate-related events, with devastating effects on the livelihoods and socio-economic development of our region.

“It is clear that if we do not take deliberate collective action now to prepare and address the impacts of this El Nino phenomenon, children, women, the elderly and other vulnerable sections of our society will be exposed and suffer the most,” he said.

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