Residents Suffer Adverse Effects of Climate Change
In Hwange, climate experts forecast less rainfall and increasing rainfall unpredictability resulting in recurrent droughts. Image by AdobeStock
In Hwange, the environmental, human, economic and social costs of climate change are increasingly becoming more clear—negative developments that require urgent action.
HWANGE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Francis Banda, 45, vividly remembers the windy night three years ago when violent storms destroyed the rooftop of his house.
In 2019, a number of houses in Hwange Colliery in Matabeleland North were destroyed by the storms, leaving several families stranded.
“A tragedy transpired. Our belongings were destroyed. It was a strange sight to see so many families stranded,” Banda recounts.
Banda and several other affected families were temporarily sheltered at the Colliery guesthouse before being moved to their new homes almost a year later.
Banda says he has been witnessing a change in weather patterns in recent years in Hwange, a district with a history of having high temperatures and little rains.
“Weather patterns have altered and become much more unpredictable since then,” he says.
“We hardly ever experience a rainy season without storms or flash floods. There is a lot of disruption and destruction everywhere,” says Banda.
Flash floods are becoming common in the district, disrupting people’s livelihoods while causing infrastructural damage.
In December 2022, torrential rains destroyed dozens of homes and electricity infrastructure in the district, leaving residents in the dark.
In the past, flash floods were blamed on the city’s ageing drainage reticulation system, but residents now believe the problem goes beyond the realm of conventional theories.
“The main contributing factor is climate change,” says Honest Ncube, a local resident.
Another resident, Stewart Bikwa adds: “It is clearly obvious that we are in a flood and storm hazard zone. During the rainy season, we run the risk of dying. In the winter, daytime highs and nighttime lows are constant and this is very concerning.”
Experts say increased air temperatures, desertification in the district and more frequent extreme weather events including heat waves, droughts and floods as well as storms are all clear signs of climate change.
In their research, Climate Change scientists at Meteoblue AG, a global weather advisory stationed at Hwange National Park Airport, say climate change has affected the greater part of the park over the past 40 years.
“The atmospheric re-analysis of the world's climate, which spans the years 1979 to 2021 and has a spatial resolution of 30 km, indicates significant consequences of climate change. In most cases, temperatures will be greater than those displayed, and local variations in precipitation will depend on terrain,” says Meteoblue AG.
Communities also face numerous stressors that have an impact on their quality of life.
According to climate change predictions for Southern Africa, the region faces more difficulties as a result of anticipated climate changes.
Although these conditions vary geographically across Southern Africa, the region is expected to continue to experience high warming, dryness, and climatic extremes.
In Hwange, climate experts forecast less rainfall and increasing rainfall unpredictability resulting in recurrent droughts.
Rain-fed agriculture is the main source of income for communal farmers in Hwange.
Climate changes effects are negatively affecting rain-fed agriculture in Hwange. Image by SIWI
Tinos Chibanda (37), an agricultural economist, says climate change could reverse recent progress in a number of sectors and make local systems and the national economy more vulnerable.
“Accordingly, preparing for climate change is crucial for the Zimbabwean economy,” Chibanda says.
“For farmers in particular and rural communities in general to make well-informed decisions about local adaptation, they must first understand how they perceive climate change. Farmers cannot simply adapt to climate change and other factors by noticing it.”
Tinos Chibanda, an agricultural economist
Chibanda says adaptation to climate change is a two-stage process. “The first step is realising that the climate has changed, and the second is deciding whether or not to take a particular action.”
“Finding out how farmers feel about climate change is essential to helping policymakers make adaptation decisions based on local viewpoints,” says Chibanda.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change also brings along health related risks.
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Gerald Mutale, a local Climate Justice Advocate, says changes in climate are often rapid and pose serious threats to human life.
“Change in climate, either naturally or because of human factors, has certain effects and impacts on the health of communities. We have seen it around for the past three years or so,” says Mutale.
“Communities' health may be impacted by climate change, whether it occurs naturally or as a result of human activity. About three years ago, we started noticing it,” Mutale adds.
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Zimbabwe, Climate change, Matabeleland North, Hwange district
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