Local authorities being trained to mainstream climate change in development plans
Harare (New Ziana) –THE government is training Rural District Councils officials to mainstream climate change in their budgets to avoid spending large amounts of money repairing damages caused by extreme weather conditions.
Washington Zhakata, director for the Climate Change Management Department in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Management told New Ziana that the exercise, which started in 2021, was in line with the Devolution agenda of the government.
“We are capacitating them to be able to identify impacts, vulnerability and adaptation options,” he said.
He said the department was working with local universities in the different provinces, which were availing their facilities for the trainings, which take three to four months.
“We are training five provincial development committee members per province and so far we have covered seven provinces. Soon we will be moving to urban local authorities,” he said.
Zhakata said the government was concerned that some of the funds that it allocated local authorities were being spent repairing damages wrought by natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and drought which are caused by climate change.
He said as a result, the government wanted all its Ministries, departments and agencies to factor climate change into their budgets.
“The government is concerned that it gives the local authorities money but it’s like it goes down the drain,” he said.
“They are losing money through weather extremes which were not known before. They need to know what to do in terms of climate proofing infrastructure.”
Zhakata cited the case of a bridge in Chikomba district, Mashonaland East province which was swept away by floods and the council used the same plan to build another one, which was swept away again just 24 hours after it was commissioned.
He also cited the Tokwe-Murkosi Dam which he said was planned a long time back but was built in 2010, and there was a near disaster in 2014 before it was commissioned when the river basin flooded and the water rose above the dam wall.
The Italians who built it had to work 24 hours to raise the dam wall further to prevent it from being overrun by the rising waters, and the government had to pay millions for the additional work, he said.
The Zimbabwe government has taken a deliberate policy to climate proof most of the economic sectors including agriculture, where it is promoting conservation farming, commonly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa.