'Zim's climate changing too fast'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's climate change has occurred at a faster rate than is normally expected over a 30-year period and this has affected the rainfall patterns in the country.

Climate change is described as a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Barnabas Chipindu, metereologist and lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Zimbabwe said climate change in Zimbabwe has been rapidly occurring.

“The meteorological community in Zimbabwe agrees that Zimbabwe’s climate is changing and it will always continue to change.

“However, the rate of change seems to be faster than what is normally expected over a 30-year period. What is certain is that, the climate of Zimbabwe is now characterised by many extreme events such as severe storms, floods and droughts, strong winds, hail, frost and heat waves,” said Chipindu.

But using the definition of climate change, Zimbabwe though does not emit a lot of greenhouse gases

Chipindu said: “Zimbabwe emits insignificant quantities for the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons that cause global warming and subsequent climate change.

“However, the country can contribute to the global climate change by limiting deforestation, planting more trees, reducing the dependence on fossil fuels for energy supply and encouraging use of renewable energy such as solar energy and bio gas.”

“The Government of Zimbabwe should be actively involved in international negotiations such as Conference of Parties, for reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialised counties,” said Chipindu. 

The onset of the rainy season has been delayed and Zimbabweans, icluding a large percentage of farmers in the rural areas are confused whether they should start planting or wait.

Chipindu explained the erratic rainy season which is characterised with an intermediate dry spell.

“The onset of the rainy season has been delayed because of change in the air circulation.

“During the beginning of the rainy season, the air masses which bring rain into the country come from the west in the form of what is called westerly waves.

“In some years, the onset of the rains is delayed because of the formation of a high pressure system in the middle levels of the atmosphere.

“The high pressure system is characterised by descending air which inhibits cloud formation resulting in suppressed rainfall activity. I suspect this high pressure system has caused the delay in the onset of the rainfall season in most parts of Zimbabwe.”

The scientist urged proper dissemination of information to the public.

“I would like to urge the policy makers and the media in Zimbabwe to consult the Meteorological Services Department and other competent meteorologists on issues of climate change so that the public is given correct information.

“I would like to appeal to funding agencies to fund research on climate science, impact and adaptation. One needs to run an ensemble of as many as 15 global climate models in order to reduce uncertainties in climate change predictions.”

The Meteorological department in Zimbabwe is working hard in trying to disseminate information on climate change but the department is limited to cellular networks, radios, television and some newspapers.

However, the bulk of Zimbabweans are in the rural areas where they are engaged in subsistence farming.

John Mupuro a principal met officer at the Zimbabwe meteorological station said: “Climate change is evident in Zimbabwe, we were definite that temperature was changing but we have seen that there is a shift in the amount of rainfall that we are receiving.

“Agritex should educate farmers that there is change.

“People are crying foul because they do not know what to do.”

Elliot Bungare, head of external relations at the Zimbabwe Met Department said his department has climate change projects in Gutu, Zvishavane and Chirumanzu. 

However, the department is not fully funded to carry out activities like cloud seeding.

Bungare said the met department was awarded $400 000 for cloud seeding in the recently-presented national budget by minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa, yet the department requires around $5 million to run smoothly. Bungure also said the department is short staffed.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, bordered by Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.

According to a Climate and Development Knowledge Network, Zimbabwe is severely vulnerable to climate change and its vulnerability is set to increase between 2010 and 2030 (DARA; Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2012).

It is ranked 156th on the Human Development Index (UNDP; Human Development Index, 2014).

A large proportion of Zimbabwe’s population is exposed to extreme poverty and hunger.

About 70 percent of Zimbabweans live in rural areas, where they depend on natural resources for food and basic needs.

According to the network, this means climate impacts, which include heavy rainfall and drought, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, also impact upon development.

Research suggests that longer and more frequent droughts could substantially reduce crop yields — including maize — a staple crop in Zimbabwe.

Given the varied nature of Zimbabwe’s biophysical characteristics, vulnerability to climate change is likely to vary significantly across the country.


Comments (6)

This is what happens to a Nation or any nation whose leadership is not GOD fearing. We cab point fingers to this & that (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons) Have you/we ever questioned the country's standing in the face of GOD. We have lost Gods favour as a nation hence these things, Drought, Floods, ""Climate change too fast" etc... Lets turn to GOD as a nation

allofus - 9 December 2014

This is what happens to a Nation or any nation whose leadership is not GOD fearing. We cab point fingers to this & that (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons) Have you/we ever questioned the country's standing in the face of GOD. We have lost Gods favour as a nation hence these things, Drought, Floods, ""Climate change too fast" etc... Lets turn to GOD as a nation

allofus - 9 December 2014

Climate change is eminent and is not only affecting Zimbabwe alone. There is need to disseminate this information to the most vulnerable communities especially the rural folk who are at the greatest risk since they have the least adaptive capacity. Government should step up efforts to sensitize and sent alarm bells to marginalized communities through their various departments such as AGRITEX, Research ans specialist Services, Verterinery services etc. In addition they should also fund some climate change projects in these communities. Higher education institutions should also play a participatory role (ploughing back their knowledge) in communities as they have the knowledge that literally "cut above the rest" in climate change issues. Lastly there should be collaborative work between these institutions of higher learning, Government departments , the Meteorological department and policy makers if we are to reduce the effects of climate change that are coming at a fast pace in Zimababwe.

Ignatius - 10 December 2014

There is nothing like a climate for one country...it is for the world as a whole. We need global mitigation measures not piece meal solutions. There is quite a bit of funding available for climate mitigation and adaptation but unfortunately Zim does not qualify coz its priorities are to maintain Mugabe's rule and his arrogant attitude

garikayi - 10 December 2014

Reading this article is a waste of time. Climate change is about measurable climatic parameters like minimum, highest and mean temperatures, rainfall and its distribution over a given period etc. The article has absolutely no conrete data except some assertions which you would expect from a group of cattle herders in rural Zimbabwe. If one is going to write about climate change they must provide the facts and not just their opinions. There is climatic change there is no argument. What we want to know are the facts. If this is what the meteorological department can produce on climate change then they do not need a budget allocation at all because this is shambles. If its the reporter's fault then please let us get reporters who try to grasp at least some understanding of what they are writing otherwise let them report on social issues should that be were their strengths lie

charles - 11 December 2014


jack - 11 December 2014

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