July 20, 2023
Compiled by Tafadzwa Mvududu
Climate change has become one of the most pressing and talked-about issues of our time. It is now a global challenge that requires a collective effort to address it. Zimbabwe has not been spared by this challenge. The impact of climate change is felt acutely by rural and marginalized communities, which predominantly rely heavily on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods.
In response to this challenge, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), organized a training on climate change policies and social accountability for farmers in Silikwe (ward 2), Bhophoma (ward 3), and Sukwe (ward 18) in Gwanda.
The training covered different topics, including the international and local policies on climate change, such as the National Climate Policy, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, and the Gender Action Plan, and how these policies call for special efforts to ease the consequences of climate change and their impact on communities. Farmers were taught about the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing resilience, and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Knowledge was also imparted on the role of social accountability in holding their duty-bearers to account. In all this, communities were encouraged to advocate for policies that prioritize the environment and the well-being of their community.
One of the key components of the training was how to create a scorecard and rate the stakeholders in terms of service delivery. The farmers were taught how to assess the performance of key stakeholders, that is, government institutions and civil society organizations, in delivering services and support related to climate change and agriculture. This will assist the farmers in having a dialogue with the service providers and working hand in hand to address community needs.
Participants highlighted that the training was an eye-opener for many of the farmers who had not previously been aware of the policies and initiatives related to climate change. They were excited about the knowledge and skills they acquired and the potential impact they could make in their communities. Many of the farmers expressed their enthusiasm to take action and implement sustainable farming practices that could help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“I am happy that ZELA came and trained us about Climate Change policies. We know what Climate Change is, but what we did not know is that there are policies that have been put in place internationally and locally on Climate change. This is so helpful, as we now know how to engage our key stakeholders.
What took my interest the most was the National Climate Change Policy and how the government tries to implement some of the policy issues, such as climate financing.” Said Mrs. Maphosa-Silikwe, Irrigation Scheme Chairperson.
The role of social accountability in the fight against climate change cannot be overstated. By empowering farmers with knowledge and skills on how to hold their key stakeholders accountable, ZELA is working towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all. The training is a crucial step towards building resilience and promoting sustainable development in the face of climate change.
Prisca Ndlovu, a farmer at Bhophoma Irrigation Scheme, expressed her gratitude to ZELA. She said she wished she had accessed the valuable information she learned from ZELA a bit earlier while admitting that it’s better late than not learning at all. She showed interest in the Gender Action Plan and Social accountability and said she was not aware that she also has a duty to rate and follow up with stakeholders.
ZELA’s work on climate change and environmental justice is crucial in Zimbabwe, where the impacts of climate change are being felt acutely. The organization’s efforts to promote social accountability and empower communities to take action are essential to building resilience and promoting sustainable development.