Stakeholders meet to discuss climate change-related migration
Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
CLIMATE change which continues to pose a significant global threat with wide-ranging negative impacts on society and ecosystems has brought new trends in human migration.
Government and development partners led by the United Nation’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) held a stakeholders’ meeting in Kadoma to look into the threats with the view of proffering solutions.
Stakeholders from Mashonaland West and Harare including district development coordinators from the two provinces attended the stakeholders’ consultative engagement in Kadoma on Wednesday.
According to a concept note shared by IOM, the effects of climate change being felt worldwide have seen an influx in migration.
“Unsustainable human exploitation of natural resources is a primary driver of anthropogenic environmental changes and degradation on a global scale, resulting in significant alterations to ecosystem functioning.
“These unsustainable practices contribute to the occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves, which have detrimental effects on livelihoods, human health, the economy, and ecosystems leading to migration in search for better livelihoods,” it said.
IOM believes that environmental migration is happening as a result of multiple influencing factors, with a consensus that climate-induced factors contribute immensely to human mobility.
Of significance, IOM also noted that migration was also increasingly becoming an adaptation strategy in the context of climate change.
In Zimbabwe, documented cases of internal migration driven by climate change have been observed in regions such as the Eastern Highlands.
The devastating Cyclone Idai also triggered significant population movement in the Chimanimani area, as it caused widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure, and agricultural yields.
In Mashonaland West, thousands of people have continued to migrate to highly fertile lands since the rollout of the agrarian reform programme two decades ago.
Zimbabwe, with the help of the IOM, is implementing a project to mainstream migration into environmental policies and adaptation strategies.
The project aims to integrate migration considerations into climate change policies, strategies, and frameworks to enhance the government’s capacity to effectively respond to the adverse impacts of climate shocks.
Through countrywide stakeholder engagements, the overall goal is to assess the nexus of climate change and migration in different provinces.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Mashonaland West head, Mr Rambwayi Mapako said there was a need to address behavioural traits that drive environmental migrations.
“We may then say that people are responding to the challenges of climate change yet in actual fact they are the drivers of climate change. So the demarcation between them responding and attributing in terms of behaviours such that we address behaviour traits to that may also induce climate change,” he said.
A district development coordinator from Harare province added that Civil Protection Units (CPUs) needed to incorporate climate change and migration in their planning mechanisms.
With research now underway to examine the extent to which migration is mainstreamed into climate change policies and strategies, the government and partners aim to identify gaps and opportunities for mainstreaming migration into climate change policies, strategies, and frameworks.