ZELA launches project aimed at understanding governance in climate risk induced displacement


Compiled by Batanai Mutasa

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), this week, held a Zimbabwe -in country- inception of a regional research project that will generate empirical evidence for influencing governance of climate-induced displacement in Southern Africa.

This was the last event to launch the project after similar activities were held in Malawi and Zambia to introduce the International Development Research Council (IDRC) funded study which will be implemented by three research institutions namely the Africa Institute of Environmental Law (AIEL) in Zimbabwe, the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) in Malawi, and the Policy and Monitoring Research Centre (PMRC) in Zambia.

Giving an overview of the project, Farai Mutondoro, the project coordinator problematized relocation saying planned relocation and rehabilitation policies often responded to displacement by urgent climate events, the slow onset of climate crisis, and development projects but noted that the knowledge around  the effectiveness, and efficiency of the governance of displacement was fragmented at best and driven by humanitarian and livelihoods concerns.

” There is an urgent need to understand the governance of displacement, through a social justice and inclusive governance perspective,” he added.

Research Country Lead, Dr. Manase Chiweshe said in Zimbabwe the research would be done in  Chimanimani and Chipinge districts which were chosen because of the multiple extreme weather events, making them illustrative case studies and examples of climate change’s impacts on displacement.

Sithole et al. (2023) note that indigenous communities and resettled farmers in the Save Valley Area of Chipinge District of Manicaland Province have reported high incidences of climate change-induced socio-economic disruptions such as loss of livelihoods, livestock, crops, food stocks and infrastructure damage.

“Zimbabwe is one of Africa’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, and Chipinge and Chimanimani are two of its most vulnerable districts. The areas are already vulnerable to climate change-related extreme events due to their location in a mountainous, low-lying region prone to floods and landslides,” said Dr. Chiweshe.   

He explained that the key objectives of the research would answer the following questions:

  • What are the existing policy approaches for governing climate crisis induced displacement?
  • What policy opportunities exist (at national, regional and international levels) to address issues related to climate risk-induced displacement?
  • What key strategies need to be implemented to ensure the involvement, inclusion and participation of vulnerable groups and marginalized communities (including women, Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities) in the governance of climate-crisis induced displacement?
  • What do community-led rehabilitation and resettlement policies and programmes look like, as responses to displacement induced by climate-crisis related events?
  • How can existing and new efforts from civil society and public institutions be scaled up to ensure a social justice perspective to governance of climate crisis induced displacement?

The launch was attended by government ministries and departments, legislators, Parliament of Zimbabwe secretariat, representatives from non-governmental, civil society and community based organisations, community members, the academia, and the media who interrogated aspects of the research design and methodology, proffering suggestions to improve the process and strengthen findings.  

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