Rumbi lives in Zimbabwe. Growing up, she noticed the change in her country brought about by climate change, and its stark effect on poverty in communities. Rumbi’s blog is part of our #coolerpanet series, bringing perspectives on climate change from young people around the world.
November , 2015 , I experienced heat I had never experienced before, I could not concentrate at work. At first I tried to ignore the piercing heat but it reached unbearable heights, my head started aching , the sweating got worse and was ultimately followed by a nose bleed . I asked what this heat was and I was told that it is called a heat wave. I asked what could have caused such disturbing temperatures, and the answer I got was ‘climate change’.
Reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001, 2007, 2012) conclude not only that green-house gas emissions are already beginning to change the global climate, but also that Africa will experience increased water stress, decreased yields from rain-fed agriculture, increased food insecurity and malnutrition, sea level rise, and an increase in arid and semi-arid land as a result of this process. Extreme weather events, notably flood, drought and tropical storms are also expected to increase in frequency and intensity across the continent. These projections are consistent with recent climatic trends in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. The effects of this exposure to changes in climate are exacerbated by the high levels of sensitivity of the social and ecological systems in the region, and the limited capacity of civil society, private sector and government actors to respond appropriately to these emerging threats.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa lying wholly within the tropical. There is a dry season, including a short cool season during the period May to September when the whole country has very little rain. These seasons have however taken a different twist due to climate and the country is particularly vulnerable due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture and climate sensitive resources. A lot has changed from the way they were when I was growing up. In the rural areas of Chimanimani, water has become so scarce as they are limited rainfalls. Water sources have dried out and boreholes are now very expensive to drill . This has become very demanding for girls who are expected to walk for long distances to fetch water. Irrigation schemes have died and now communities are farming on the riverbanks, causing siltation. Seasons for farming have changed and this has not left the Zimbabwean youth free.
In our communities, we have a form of work we call “maricho”, this is a form of livelihood for families where people go and till other people’s land to get money or food .This however has left many unemployed as the country has not been receiving rainfalls, land has dried and farming seasons have changed. Instead of going for maricho, most are now resorting to substance abuse as a way of washing the problems away. Whilst poverty has always existed, climate change has made it worse. I went to Chimanimani in the South of Zimbabwe recently, the sight was sad, the mountains are burnt down and even the animals are thin and sickly. Disturbing was the knowledge that forests are being burnt in search of rabbits for food. Something has to be done, and it has to be done fast.