There’s something we’re doing right

03 Dec, 2023 - 00:12 0 Views
There’s something we’re doing right

The Sunday Mail

THIS year has provided humanity with all the evidence it needs to conclude with absolute certainty that extreme weather events are increasing in both regularity and magnitude to the extent of posing a real and immediate existential threat to life on earth.

We all thought we had seen the worst when floods blanketed over a third of Pakistan last year, killing close to 2 000 people and displacing eight million others, but that was before the seemingly apocalyptic Noah-like deluge in north-eastern Libya four months ago, which swept entire communities and families into the Mediterranean Sea.

All told, more than 4 000 people died, while others — thought to be more than 10 000 — were reported missing.

If it is not floodwater, it has been fire and brimstone incinerating swatches of communities.

Who can forget the hell-like fires that almost consumed the United States island state of Hawaii in August this year, where some people had to jump into the ocean to escape the conflagration?

These are desperate times.

Even Canada, which is usually known for its frigid temperatures, was not spared, as it experienced its worst wildfire season in history this year.

It had to deploy the army to fight the out-of-control infernos.

You see, brutal and deadly temperatures — the hottest on record — have been stalking the Northern Hemisphere.

Closer to home, we know all too well about the hazards of a changing climate.

We still live with the telling scars of Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 300 of our kinsfolk.

Many others were either swept to be swallowed by the Indian Ocean or are still missing.

We are told this was the worst-ever weather-related disaster to strike the Southern Hemisphere.

But such extreme weather has become both too regular for comfort and unfathomably devastating.

In December 2019, we experienced the worst drought in more than 40 years, which had the unwanted effect of cutting our maize production to less than 800 000 tonnes.

It even eclipsed Zimbabwe’s 1992 drought, once regarded as the worst in living memory.

For Bishop Lazi, 1992, when grain output precipitously declined to about 360 000 tonnes, was catastrophic.

We had to eat yellow maize imported from somewhere in East Africa.

The pap cooked from this curious grain had a deterrently smelly aroma, but we had to eat it regardless just to keep body and soul together.

Unfortunately, the wagons that brought the grain also came with giant rats that wreaked havoc in many homes.

They either gnawed at your only decent pair of clothes or spirited away food and other provisions. Kikikiki.

Mouse or rat traps were a waste of time for these nuisance creatures, which seemed to reason like human beings.

Cats were also no match for the huge, intimidating and menacing pests.

Well, they say bad luck or trouble comes in threes.

Even now, we are still living through the devastating impact of climate change.

The many hours of load-shedding we are currently experiencing are precisely because of unseasonably low rainfall in the Zambezi River basin, which has resulted in low water levels in Kariba Dam.

This has made nonsense of the Kariba South expansion project.

The unpredictability of changing climate, however, means this is not always the case.

A strong La Niña event during the 2010/2011 summer season, for instance, resulted in prolonged rains that filled the Lake Kariba reservoir to capacity.

For years, Kariba Power Station has been the nation’s workhorse, helping to produce most of the cheap power for local households.

It, however, looks like Hwange Power Station has taken over that role, especially after the recent commissioning of Units 7 and 8.

How ironic that at a time when local power generation has been curtailed by climate change, we must rely on the very same fossil fuels that are causing it!

Had it not been for the ailing Kariba Power Station, we would by now have been able to meet our local energy needs.

This week, we might sadly need to take off Unit 8 from the grid — just like we did Unit 7 — for a month-long routine maintenance, which is typical of power stations of this nature.

In the fullness of time, the new two units will be working at full throttle, helping to power the new year, 2024.

When wisdom matches adversity

Bishop Lazi told you how desperate it was becoming of late, as temperatures soared and prospects of immediate relief and succour from expected rains became remote.

Water is the essence of life.

In fact, water is life.

The obtaining temperatures have just been scalding and unforgiving.

Traditionally, in desperate times such as these, it was fashionable to look elsewhere, particularly the West, for assistance and solutions, but this is no longer the case — the cavalry is not coming.

The mind of our rich friends in the West, who incidentally caused the climate crisis that we are grappling with today, is being exercised by bloody wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, where they are splurging billions to protect their parochial self-serving interests.

Since the Russia/Ukraine conflict began in February 2022, Washington has shelled out an eye-watering US$75 billion to prop up Kyiv, while its allies in Europe have chipped in with a staggering U$91 billion.

Yet the developed world is failing — nay, unwilling — to honour its US$100 billion-per-year pledge to mitigate the effects of climate change it has wrought upon the world.

So, it means we must necessarily look to the heavens and within ourselves for the solutions we desperately need to survive.

And we have been doing precisely that.

Ever since ED was Vice President, he always impressed on the need to wean ourselves from rain-fed agriculture.

An accelerated irrigation rehabilitation and development programme has unsurprisingly been one of his signature policies since taking over the reins in 2017.

This is why we spectacularly bounced back after the 2019/2020 drought, when we produced a remarkable 2,7 million tonnes of maize in the following cropping season, which was the highest since the 2,9 million tonnes produced in 1984.

The ultimate goal is to put 350 000 hectares under irrigation to insulate our agriculture by 2025.

This would mean we will be able to meet our food requirements, notwithstanding either unseasonably low or high rainfall.

Fully aware of the enormity of the onerous task that lay ahead, President ED had to excuse Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka from contesting in this year’s elections, and he has not disappointed.

New irrigation schemes, under the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme, are currently being commissioned at whiplash-inducing breakneck speed.

And the results are showing.

Treasury has since revised upwards growth projects for this year to 5,5 percent on account of better-than-expected output in agriculture.

As we face the possibility of scant rains in the coming cropping season, our granaries seem to have significant grain to mitigate the potential impact on harvests.

There is something that we are doing right.

As world leaders gathered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last week to chart the way forward, the message from Zimbabwe could not be clearer — Leveraging on our wisdom can help us adapt and survive these increasingly uncertain times.

Proverbs 3:13-26 is instructive: “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour.

“Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

It further says: “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”

With wise leadership, we can never go wrong.

We must stay the course.

Bishop out!



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