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The Herald – Zimbabwe
Barely six weeks after the deadly Cyclone Idai pulverised Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi leaving almost 1 000 people dead, another tropical storm, Cyclone Kenneth, last week ravaged Mozambique again, the Comoros Islands and Tanzania.
As of Sunday evening, the Mozambican government described the situation as “critical”, and the rains were “worrying”.
This is scenario is far removed from the weather reports presented towards the end of 2018, where the major worry was the El Niño-induced drought.
As a result, the Southern African Development Community in December 2018 hosted the Regional Disaster Preparedness Planning Workshop “in line with the SADC Regional Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework, which provides for seasonal disaster preparedness planning at national and regional level to mitigate all forms of disasters in the region which are linked to hydro meteorological factors”.
Maybe, the deadly and costly cyclones were not part of the disaster preparedness, because although the region has experienced severe weather conditions, they have not been as catastrophic as Idai and Kenneth.
The World Bank estimates damage caused by Idai to be over US$2 billion, while experts warn that Kenneth could “dump twice as much rain in northern Mozambique”.
When catastrophic storms such as Idai and Kenneth pound the same region in quick succession, there is every reason for everyone to worry not just at the frequency, but the cost of reconstruction.
We have already noted that individual Sadc member states do not have the capacity to provide not just the humanitarian assistance but to also rebuild the damaged infrastructure.
The international community has therefore rendered major assistance, which we are grateful of.
However, as a region there are critical questions that we should be asking ourselves.
What is the meaning of the fight for Independence, self-determination and sovereignty, if decades after Independence, we look up to former colonial masters for humanitarian assistance?
As we ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, were we also making preparations for a rainy day?
It is not that the documentation on disaster preparedness is lacking, but what is required now is the political will to ensure that what the SADC bloc agrees on is fully implemented.
One of the documents on the SADC website is quite clear on risk management: “Since 2000, countries in Southern Africa have experienced an increase in the frequency, magnitude and impact of drought and flood events. Climate change is expected to significantly affect the region and increase risks related to water resources, fire, and agriculture and food security …
“Governments and partners in the SADC region need to implement disaster risk management to ensure community safety and protection of economic assets.
“Disaster risk management includes preparedness, mitigation, response, rehabilitation and recovery.
“It is multi-disciplinary, and involves the participation of a multitude of partners and stakeholders, ranging from national governments, non-governmental organisations, International Cooperating Partners, donors, civil society and the private sector,” reads the statement.
But are SADC member states walking the talk, or they have to be weaned from the former colonisers, that are facing other challenges — earthquakes, wildfires, floods, terrorism, etc? Are we also aware of donor fatigue, especially towards African countries?
These are issues we need to critique, even as we tackle current challenges, otherwise we will never grow up.
There is also need to realise that we do not have to reinvent the wheel, the media included.
Information, communication, technologies are major enablers in all disciplines.
Let us use the available information unapologetically to empower the people, as long as it has been verified.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Victor Maphosa
“The world we live in is deteriorating rapidly due to the dire consequences of climate change which manifest as floods, heat waves, diseases, water and air pollution, land degradation and desertification, among other challenges.”
The above remarks were made by President Mnangagwa on December 5, 2018 when he declared the first Friday of each calendar month as the National Environment Cleaning
Day, as his Government moved to ensure the country has a sustainable environment management and waste disposal system.
He made the declaration as he officially launched the National Clean-up Campaign in Harare and signed a declaration to this effect.
“These developments require us to take bold and decisive action with regards to the management of our environment, of ensuring a clean environment. We need to keep our villages, towns and cities clean and hygienic, both for this generation and generations to come.
“We must, therefore, be reoriented to practise good environmental and waste management through increased advocacy, education, training and awareness. We must do this from a place of pride, not just a necessity.”
Leading from the front and by example, he often dons a worksuit as he joins people sweeping and collecting litter at various locations in the country.
His call has been embraced positively by all progressive citizens, with many seeing the benefits of a cleaner environment.
It is heartening that most Zimbabweans are now increasingly developing a culture of cleaning the environment, making it part of their daily lives.
The Environmental Management Agency says more institutions and organisations have embraced the call joining the nation to promote sustainable environmental practices.
In January this year, more than 73 stakeholders responded and participated in the national clean-up exercise, according to EMA.
Ever since the President launched the clean-up programme, schools, companies, institutions and universities have all ratcheted up clean-up exercises in various parts of the country.
In many ways, the President’s clean-up campaign has fostered a spirit of oneness, patriotism and love of the environment.
The seed planted by the President is yielding good fruits as more people make cleaning up the environment part of their life.
The call has also stirred that spirit of belonging and unity and to date, 786 stakeholders have participated in the exercise.
EMA says more than 20 000 clean-ups have been carried out across the country since the Presidential declaration, a major milestone for the country in terms of attaining its Sustainable Development Goals on environment.
Global environmental assessments reports indicate that the planet is increasingly getting polluted, rapidly warming and quickly losing its biodiversity, something that is deeply worrying.
The deep concern has prompted Zimbabwe to quickly play a role in cleaning the environment and make it a better place to live.
It is important at this juncture to know how much waste our beautiful nation is generating, and how far have we gone in cleaning the very environment we have been polluting.
It is alarming to note that Zimbabwe alone generates around 1,65 million tonnes of solid waste annually and it is projected that by 2030, waste generated annually would surpass 5 million tonnes, according to EMA.
“Human nature and in general behaviour has, among other things, been singled out as a major cause of poor solid waste management, hence the need to tap into education and awareness for the change in the mindset,” EMA says.
“The National Clean-up Launch remains one of the greatest milestone achievements in Zimbabwean history on waste management issues.
“Over 20 000 clean-ups have been carried out across the country ever since the launch of the programme. To date, the National Clean-up Programme has registered participation of 786 stakeholders from as low as 73 in January 2019, among them, but not limited to, the corporate sector, religious fraternity, Government institutions, parastatals and foreign nationals resident in the country.”
Running under the banner “Independence Clean- up Special”, the April National Clean-up Day collected 32 000 metric tonnes of waste up from just 9 000 metric tonnes in March this year.
All this presents solid evidence of a positive response to the Presidential call to clean up the environment.
Cleaning up the environment is everyone’s responsibility.
It is, therefore, imperative for local authorities to collect waste as per their waste collection schedules, dump waste in appropriate areas and draw up and implement plans guided by local and international principles of environmental waste management.
This trajectory will help prevent the unsafe disposal of waste, especially in urban set-ups.
Urging all citizens to embrace the clean-up programme from household level, then out to institutional level is of great importance — after all, “charity begins at home”.
It will pay if prosecution of those who deliberately continue littering and dumping waste at undesignated places is emphasised, practised and consistently reviewed.
As the nation nears another first Friday of the coming month, it is clear that waste collected in April will be surpassed.
It is important to keep on supporting the President’s call as this is the best initiative to make the environment a better place for all.
President Mnangagwa has been a leading light in the clean-up campaign and the nation must rally behind him to help the country meet its SDG targets on the environment.
His works must be lauded and embraced as widely as possible.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Ben Ehrenreich
More than a month has passed since Cyclone Idai made landfall on the coast of Mozambique.
Rivers swollen with rainwater overflowed, submerging whole villages.
An entire city — the port town of Beira, with a population of half a million — was all but erased.
Including the casualties incurred in neigh-boring Zimbabwe and Malawi, Idai took more than 1 000 lives and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless.
The floodwaters have receded. Now cholera is spreading.
Bad things happen all the time in places with unfamiliar names. Disaster piles upon disaster: Last month a cyclone, somewhere else a flood.
The newscasters don their most solemn expressions, frown for a quick, respectful pause, and move on.
With Idai, it was a city larger than Oakland or Atlanta, simply washed off the map.
And it will almost certainly happen again. More heat in the oceans means extra energy for storms.
Idai was the seventh of nine cyclones in the southern Indian Ocean this season, more than twice the usual average.
More severe hurricanes are hitting the Atlantic — remember Maria, and the nearly 3 000 killed in Puerto Rico? — and more severe cyclones are forming in the Indian Ocean.
Many more people will die. Others will profit.
The latter, insists Dipti Bhatnagar, a climate activist in the Mozambican capital of Maputo, have a bill to pay.
For years, Bhatnagar, who works for the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth International, has been talking and writing about climate change in terms of debt arrears owed by the planet’s rich to its poor.
It is, as she puts it, elementary “climate finance”.
Profits flow swiftly in one direction while costs pool up somewhere else.
The balance is long overdue, because climate change is not just weather: It is systems, markets, financial networks, deals struck between government ministers and corporate executives or bankers, inequities that have the same contours now that they had centuries ago, when it was European gunships, not storms, that brought death from the sea to the shores of Africa.
From where Bhatnagar sits, the balance sheet is easier to read than it is elsewhere on the globe.
Mozambique is, by the IMF’s reckoning, the sixth-poorest country in the world.
Most people earn about $1,30 a day. Less than 30 percent of the population has access to electricity.
Carbon emissions are low: The average citizen of Mozambique is responsible for 55 times less carbon emissions than the average American.
Seen from another angle, though, Mozambique is filthy rich.
Earlier this decade, the Italian multinational Eni discovered enormous quantities of liquid natural gas (LNG) — 85 trillion cubic feet — off Mozambique’s northwest coast.
If money has a smell, it smells like LNG, which is mainly methane and smells like something you would be ashamed to release in close quarters.
Every major oil company you can think of has jumped in to get its fingers on Mozambique’s gas: ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Shell, Chevron, plus major energy companies from Norway, Japan, India, China, Thailand, France, Portugal, and Brazil, to name just a few.
Big projects involve big financing, so big banks — from Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and Korea — are making sure to take a cut as wealth flows malodorously out from beneath Mozambican waters.
All for the noble cause of shipping fuel to much, much richer countries, where its combustion will further endanger and impoverish the people of Mozambique.
It really does smell awful: In 2013, shortly after the LNG fields were discovered, the London offices of Credit Suisse and the Russian-owned bank VTB extended secret loans of more than $2 billion, guaranteed by the Mozambican government, to companies controlled by military officials.
They soon defaulted. The banks couldn’t be expected to absorb the loss, so the people of Mozambique would have to. The IMF and other foreign donors cut off aid payments, causing the currency to plummet and food prices to soar, while the government imposed austerity measures and slashed public funding.
It’s an old story: Corrupt local elites collude with plundering foreign elites, enriching themselves and their distant collaborators, while leaving their countries in an apparently endless cycle of debt.
The real debt, Bhatnagar argues, goes the other way. For more than a century, the United States and Europe have built wealthy, industrialised societies based on the burning of fossil fuels.
Their wealthiest citizens and corporations have used their riches — and all kinds of clever accounting tricks, backed always by military might — to eat through the resources of the rest of the world, in the process creating a crisis from which they continue to profit, and that has so far been suffered by almost everyone but them.
Did I mention that, by Thomas Picketty and Lucas Chancell’s calculations, the richest 1 percent of the planet’s population are responsible for 2 000 times more carbon emissions than Mozambique’s poor?
Or that one of the less visible effects of climate change in southern Africa is drought punctuated by erratic and extreme rains, which, as LNG flowed in the north, caused a rubbish dump in Maputo to collapse last year, burying 17 people in a tsunami of trash?
If any equitable solution is possible, Bhatnagar contends, it cannot stop at ending the extraction and consumption of oil, coal, and gas.
The countries and the corporations that have profited have accrued a debt, and they must pay.
Bhatnagar means that very literally. An estimated 90 percent of Beira’s infrastructure was destroyed.
It will cost billions to rebuild, to find housing and employment for the more than half a million people who have been displaced, to create a healthcare infrastructure adequate to the population’s needs.
In the long run, Bhatnagar is imagining major, systemic change and a shift to a world in which communities control their own resources, but the immediate policies she is suggesting are hardly revolutionary: direct financial and technological assistance to the countries and communities that are currently footing the bill for the comforts of the wealthy, rigorous taxation on corporate profits and financial transactions.
Proposals like the Green New Deal, she argues, will be neither equitable nor effective unless they look beyond national borders to include the rest of the world.
This includes not only Mozambique, but Bangladesh, Haiti, Honduras, everywhere in the world where people are suffering unimaginable losses so that others, far away, can enjoy unconscionable luxuries.
“We don’t all have the same responsibility,” Bhatnagar says, “and we don’t all have the same capability.
Those who created this crisis must now support those of us who do not have the capacity to deal with it while it’s coming at us fast and hard.”
Tackling climate debt does not mean, she cautions, a struggle of poor countries against rich ones. Neither profits nor losses are evenly distributed.
In California’s Camp Fire last fall, private fire fighters saved billionaires’ estates, while the poorest pensioners in Paradise died.
In Mozambique, high officials stash money offshore while the poor, literally suffocated by garbage, die.
“It’s about targeting elites,” Bhatnagar says, about searching out new forms of global solidarity and overturning a system in which most human beings, and the planet itself, count as externalities on a ledger of profit and loss.
“We are challenging our leaders right here in our countries, and we need people in the Global North to challenge the leaders in your countries and to make the connections between our movements.”
The zeitgeist, she admits, is running in the opposite direction, to walls and blinders; panicked xenophobia paired with climate denialism; the rise of governments in the United States, Brazil, India, and elsewhere that are, as she puts it, “anti-people and anti-environment.”
In much of the world, these connections are getting harder to see.
In Mozambique, they are nearly impossible to ignore. —The Nation.
The Nation (Nairobi)
By Meles Alem Tikea
In the past one year, Ethiopia and Kenya have witnessed a re-awakening of bilateral relations, which by extension have revitalised and re-energised a new development chapter for both countries.
This is against the backdrop of historical similarities between the two countries, which for a long time had either been accorded little significance or played second fiddle to other competing goals.
The moment is now ripe to explore development opportunities for the betterment of our people. The clarion call of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to regional neighbouring countries is to integrate. This is because the destiny of the Horn of Africa countries is intertwined. For Ethiopia and Kenya, our destiny is cemented permanently. Together, we should pursue a collective and complimentary outcome to the betterment of over 150 million people in the two countries.
In order to realise gainful deeds from above, we should on the one hand understand that Ethiopia and Kenya are strategic partners not competitors, and on the other hand, we should identify comparative advantages that are a stock of our countries. How well we utilise both ends will determine the success of bilateral partnership.
In this new chapter, the common goals of people underlie the prevailing national development agenda items. For instance, it's no coincidence that the Big Four agenda in Kenya coincides with the main strategic areas of Ethiopia's development agenda.
Yet, there are areas where Ethiopia is technically and resourcefully endowed and possesses strong comparative advantage, and can in effect benefit Kenya's Big Four agenda. A classic example is in manufacturing, the leather industry being a case in point. In comparison, Kenya is lionised as the 'Silicon Valley' of Africa, subsequently, Ethiopia can benefit from the ICT superiority of Kenya in many ways.
In addition, the entrepreneurship spirit of Kenyans on various sectors complimenting the pursuit of the Big Four, compounded with the vibrant role of media in nation building is a good example for Ethiopia to learn from. The government of Prime Minister Abiy has made great strides to actualising the concept Madamar, a call for unity, synergy and harmony, which is also timely and applicable to present setting of Kenya.
Unlike in yester-years, 2018 and 2019 has seen summit meetings between the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya acquire new traits. The reciprocal meetings, complete with befitting delegations have rendered a boost to among others, re-awakening of the Special Status Agreement of 2012 between the two countries and ascertained the fact that infrastructure development is a common enabler of the economies of both countries, a fact that cannot be gainsaid.
During the summit meetings, both heads of state made bold commitments complete with clear cut time frames to implement. For instance, it was agreed that logistics for the One Stop Border Post be put in place by the end of the second quarter of 2019; both heads of state also agreed to jointly inspect and supervise the Lamu-Garissa-Moyale and Moyale-Hawassa-Addis Ababa road network.
Yet again, the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) project and the Moyale Joint city and Economic Zone project are areas where upon completion will help countries reap maximum benefits and demonstrate the power of bilateral relations.
The construction of three berths is completed from 62 to 99 per cent. All three berths will be completed and ready by December 2020, signifying that Lapsset is not a pipedream but deliverable project.
Ethiopia and Kenya are at a juncture whereby success in realising development aspirations is detrimental to the level of coordination and partnership between the two. To realise the full benefits of the Ethio-Kenya trade relations therefore calls for a deliberate commitment to the course.
In the recent past, various challenges and opportunities have also demonstrated that Ethiopia and Kenya can further boost their partnership if, together they complement one another as partners.
On the one level, prevailing regional security challenges and development needs present a rife opportune to be acted upon. On the other level, Ethiopia and Kenya have between them required needs to tackle the above and elevate their countries up and above economic wants.
In sum, relations between Ethiopia and Kenya are not only symbiotic, but also bear identical similarities which should be utilised to the betterment of one another. If effectively coordinated, interpreted and implemented, the chapter on the pursuit of Ethio-Kenya relations will set a precedence to the future pursuit of bilateral relations.
Tellingly, successful pursuit of the Ethio-Kenya relations will demonstrate that both countries are partners, and not competitors. Albeit in the marathons.