Southern African countries are now collaborating in an effort to combat climate change, some effects of which will hit the region especially hard
Five countries in Southern Africa have joined forces to launch a research centre that will work on combatting climate change in the region. South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia signed a declaration last week to base the initiative in Windhoek.
The S.A. Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management is intended to support cross-border research and land management.
Ministers from the five countries were joined by Annette Schavan, German’s science minister. Scientists based in Namibia estimate that S.A will suffer double the average rise in global temperature because of its regional air circulation system.
This could devastate agriculture and result in severe food and water shortages. John Mutorwa, Namibia’s agriculture minister, said: “It is forecast that the region will be hard hit by the effects of climate change, leading to the spread of deserts, water shortages, loss of fertile soils, biodiversity and agricultural output”.
“Hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced, aggravating poverty and increasing the spread of vector-borne diseases and epidemics such as malaria, meningitis and cholera. Clearly, nations need to co-ordinate and communicate across political borders to jointly prepare for climate change.”
Namibia said the centre, due to open in August, would equip regional researchers and decision-makers with scientific data and services to address future trends of global climate change, the vulnerability of societies and ecosystems and the potential for improved natural resource managements and services.
Southern African countries would help with the creation of trans-boundary early warning systems for floods and drought and regional climate change projections, the centre said.
A similar facility was recently set up amongst 10 West African countries, also supported and funded by Germany.
African countries have often lagged behind the rest of the world in cross-border co-operation, for example in intra-African trade.
But last year Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe created a transfrontier conservation area, allowing animals and people to roam freely across borders and establishing a framework to protect and share precious water resources.
Guardian News & Media 2012
Mail & Guardian April 26 to May 3 2012
Please save water; re-use grey water for irrigation and harvest your own rainwater. Water conservation is a shared responsibility.