21 July 2023
Compiled by Batanai Mutasa
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association is holding a series of Climate Change Indaba’s in Binga, Gutu, and Gwanda districts to strengthen the governance capacity of local-level actors so that they can drive sustainability in food security systems, climate resilience, and natural resource management.
Thursday, July 13, saw the first indaba being held at Ruti Irrigation Scheme in Gutu District, Masvingo Province. At least 30 irrigation scheme farmers turned up for discussions with service providers from AGRITEX, Dewure Sub Catchment Council, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Forestry Commission, and Gutu Rural District Council.
Explaining the link between service delivery and climate change, ZELA Programs Manager Nyaradzo Mutonhori said climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts are effectively coordinated and governed by global conventions and laws. Thus, Mutonhori underscored the importance of reliable service delivery and monitoring of the same by communities to effectively tackle climate change.
“We all need to have an appreciation of the links between the law and climate change. As a basic example of how the law is instrumental in the fight against climate change, we have such global conventions as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which inform nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at individual country levels like Zimbabwe. These NDCs include strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation, which are enforced by the service providers who are here with us today,” Mutonhori added.
She explained that such national plans as the National Climate Change Policy and the Carbon Trading Framework are being implemented through government institutions and departments, like the service providers who attended the dialogue.
As the various service providers explained the services they offer to communities, linking them to climate change mitigation and adaptation, they also identified barriers to their ability to meet expected levels of service that could be ameliorated by the community.
“We encourage the use of organic fertilizers and treatments in agricultural practices as chemical options are harmful to the environment, increase carbon emissions, and worsen both climate change and its effects,” said AGRITEX officer Advance Muchemei, who implored the farmers to follow advice from extension workers who could help them adopt new climate-smart agriculture techniques.
In a presentation that ignited spirited responses from the farmers, Dewure Sub Catchment Council representative Misheck Moyo said the council’s role was water management, including water use and flood monitoring, water harvesting, data collection, and other measures to ensure water availability for everyone in the sub catchment.
“We are disheartened by some community practices that worsen climate change, such as farming on wetlands, stream bank cultivation, arbitrary and unmonitored borehole drilling, and resistance to paying water levies, which we use for water development projects. This ultimately means that we fail to cope with water demand, and this worsens the effects of climate change,” said Moyo.
However, the farmers expressed disappointment with the subcatchment council and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) for failing to allocate water equitably and charging unjust levies. They were especially disgruntled by the fact that they had to pay levies for boreholes drilled from personal resources and had to travel to the councils’ offices to seek approval for drilling.
“I don’t understand why we must be burdened with numerous visits to your offices, and yet we are also bearing the costs of drilling ourselves. There should be a less bureaucratic system that is cognizant of our plight as communal farmers, like having local representation, which is done well by the Environmental Management Agency,” said one farmer.
Representing another service provider, Adam Nyanguwo from the Forestry Commission explained that his department was concerned with curbing deforestation. He underlined the need for transparency and accountability in the management of forest resources. Nyanguwo implored communities to take ownership of this finite natural resource and be the Commission’s eyes and ears in its efforts to protect forests.
After presentations from all service providers were done, the farmers expressed gratitude to ZELA for an eye-opening dialogue that gave them insights on who to approach for service delivery, especially where they had concerns related to climate change, its mitigation, and adaptation.
Ruti Irrigation Scheme chairperson Mudadi Katinosi said the farmers would agree on an action plan to improve their interactions with service providers and ensure that there were joint efforts to complement national and international efforts towards decarbonization, climate change mitigation, and adaptation.
The Climate Change Indaba’s continue in Gwanda and Binga with the same outlook: to bring together communities and service providers for a concerted drive towards the sustainability of food security systems, climate resilience, and natural resource management in the face of climate change.