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Climate Change no longer a myth in Southern Africa

April 15th, 2014 by Posted in Agriculture, Angola, Climate change, Countries, English, Food security, GROW campaign, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

By Professor Nicholas Ngepah:

Senior Regional Research Adviser for Oxfam in Southern Africa

 Workers preparing fields to grow corn, Gutu project irrigation site. Credit DAVID_WHITE

Workers preparing fields to grow corn, Gutu project irrigation site. Credit DAVID_WHITE

Climate change is no longer a myth in Southern African communities. It is a reality with tangible effects being felt especially by women and the poor in rural areas. Climate change is putting our food security in jeopardy, affecting what, when and how much people eat; not only in other parts of the world but also in Southern Africa.

This year, there have been some significant weather events in Southern Africa, showing the effects of climate change. Climate change has mainly manifested itself through phenomena such as droughts, floods, extreme temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. For example, 2013 ended in Zimbabwe with a record drought around the Ruti area in Masvingo province.

The area most affected by the drought had benefitted from an irrigation scheme provided by Oxfam and its partners. The scheme received water from the nearby dam and served primarily women and small-holder farmers whose farming activities have the potential to alleviate food insecurity in the area. The levels of the Dam went so low that the water (that used to serve both rural small scale farms and commercial farms) was diverted to serve only commercial sugar farms.

The rural small scale farmers that depended on the dam for irrigation of their farms as their main source of livelihood found themselves going without water for farming. this resulted in failed crops and lower than expected harvest for that season. 2014 however started with another kind of challenge, with heavy rains that resulted in an overflow of the same dam. The same people who lacked water only two months before for farming found themselves as victims of serious floods.

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