Zimbabwe is experiencing major power blackouts following the reduction of River Zambezi’s water levels – neither is Zambia spared as the drought affected Lake Kariba cannot support hydroelectric generation as before. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth recently swept through and devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, leaving in their wake over 1000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. This atmosphere will influence discussions as senior government officials from COMESA [the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] member states meet in Lusaka between July 23 and 24, 2019, to discuss the Regional Resilience Initiative on Climate Change, which was launched in 2017.
The meeting aims at supporting Member States to strengthen their policy and coordination mechanisms and develop national resilience policies and implementation frameworks, according to a statement released yesterday in Lusaka. About 50 officials, from ministries responsible for planning, agriculture, environment, health, disaster management and mitigation units from 17 COMESA Member countries will attend.
“These [policies and implementation frameworks ] will serve as national guiding documents to resilience building and project implementation at Member State level,” reads the statement.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the COMESA Climate Change Coordinator, Dr Mclay Kanyangarara, observed that “most COMESA Member States have a fragmented and haphazard approach to managing risks, shocks and stresses which has proved to be ineffective as the magnitude of loss and damage continues to escalate in the region.”
He added: “Governments find themselves diverting resources allocated to much needed developmental projects and programmes to deal with the effects of the disasters thereby trapping many in a vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment.”
He stressed that natural and economic systems are interconnected at the national and regional levels, hence impact on one affects the other.
Most COMESA countries are vulnerable and face similar threats of climate change and droughts, flooding, industrial shocks, extreme rainfall and disease outbreaks, wars and civil unrest among others.