PESA
Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Climate change has begun to create a number of challenges for the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Recurring El Niño droughts have severely affected food production in the region. Dry periods in 2015/2016 and 2018/2019 have depleted stores and raised prices. In 2018/19, 10.5 million people were made food insecure, raising the total number in the region to 41.2 million[1]. Tropical storms in the South-West Indian Ocean have also increased in magnitude and occurrence. In the first quarter of 2019 tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth in April 2019 destroyed approximately 770,000.0 hectares of crops and left an additional 1.6 million people in crisis-level food insecurity[2]. These severe conditions have had a devastating impact across the region, but how prepared are SADC countries to deal with the impact?

Figure 1: Location of Meteorological Stations in SADC

Source: SADC 2012a. Climate Information, on the Southern African Development Community Website, viewed on 17 November 2019, from https://www.sadc.int/.

The SADC Secretariat has four areas of focus in its Climate and Meteorology initiatives, namely:

  1. Meteorology: aimed at providing weather forecasts, encouraging collaboration and standardisation, and strengthening regional meteorology systems[3];
  2. Climate Information: aimed at providing long-term climate forecasts, collaborating across countries to foster regional security, and providing valuable information on changes and threats to the SADC climate system[4];
  3. Climate Change Adaption: aimed at formulating sector-based climate change adaption strategies and subscribing to regional programmes that provide guidance on climate change adaptation and mitigation[5];
  4. Climate Change Mitigation: aimed at providing programmes that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and capacity-building to enable national government capacity to run their own programmes[6].
Figure 2: El Niño Climate in SADC

Source: FAO 2019b. El Niño, on the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from http://www.fao.org/.

However, the most recent spate of droughts and cyclones have tested the limits of SADC response and questioned the preparedness or effectiveness of regional early warning systems. The environmental crisis in SADC has extended from directly affecting agriculture and food security, to impacting health care across the region. In 2019 climate shocks worsened measles outbreaks in Angola (3,127 cases; 64 deaths), Comoros (132 cases; 0 deaths) and Madagascar (202,692 cases; 966 deaths); and in Namibia there’s been a spike in hepatitis E transmissions (6,527 cases; 55 deaths) in informal settlements due to poor access to water and adequate sanitation[7]. Malnutrition remains high in the region with 13 countries reporting prevalence of stunting above 20.0% of which 7 countries have a prevalence of stunting above 30.0%[8]. The severity of the most recent droughts has result in a regional crisis that warrants immediate action in order to avoid more fatalities and emergencies. Following the impact of the 2018/19 El Niño episode the number of food insecure people in SADC is projected to rise to 41.2 million[9].

Table 1: Food Insecurity in SADC (2015/16-2019/20)

Source: SADC 2019a. Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa¸ ibid.

The situation may go from bad to worse unless new policies are put in place focusing on Disaster Risk Management (DRM), a proactive, flexible form of crisis preparation that aims to reduce the damage caused by disasters. As opposed to more archaic post-disaster response strategies, DRM frameworks help to lessen the impact of natural disasters by:

  1. Decentralising relief efforts and stockpiles, so that they are available to people at the time of the crisis;
  2. Using government resources to coordinate the activities of various local and international aid organisations;
  3. Create mechanisms to quickly write budgets and funding plans to channel funds to affected areas;
  4. Educate the local population on how to prepare for evacuations or riding out crises;
  5. Develop infrastructure and the economy to absorb the impact of devasting events better.

Many SADC member states have adopted DRM frameworks. However, they have done so at different times and with varying degrees of success. By reviewing how Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia have developed their crisis management policies, it is possible to see how effective these systems can be and how important it is to maintain them properly.

The Case of Madagascar

Madagascar is susceptible to droughts and tropical storms caused by climate change. The island nation loses an estimated USD 100.0 million per annum due to damages from natural disasters[10]. Between 1980 and 2010 Madagascar was struck by 35 cyclones and floods[11]. Moreover, the southern regions of the country suffered from droughts in 2015/2016 and 2018/2019[12]. In 2019, Madagascar was hit by three tropical cyclones causing widespread flooding in the north, while the southern parts of the country have been ravaged by the 2018/2019 El Niño drought. These disasters have negatively impacted Madagascar’s food production, public health institutions, water and sewage systems, as well as economic and infrastructural development. Consequently 730,000 people in Madagascar are food insecure and require immediate relief[13]. However, in the face of escalating crises, the Malagasy government is actively coordinating relief efforts within the framework of the national strategy on DRM adopted back in 2003[14]. Despite the shortcomings of the strategy in terms of limited funding and infrastructure, such efforts are yielding considerable positive results following the involvement of the international aid organisations including the World Bank[15]. Consequently, food insecurity is expected to decline in 2020.

The Case of Mozambique

In 2019, the northern provinces of Mozambique bore the brunt of tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth in 2019 and the western provinces were struck by the 2018/2019 El Niño drought[16]. However, unlike Madagascar, Mozambique has struggled to create a solid disaster management framework. Its national DRM master plan was only approved in October 2017. Therefore, the Mozambican government did not have a practical set of policies in place to cope with a series of natural disasters that struck the country in 2018/2019[17]. This was made clear when cyclone Idai struck the country in March 2019, killing over 600 people and dealing billions of dollars in damage[18]. However, the Mozambican government was able to scramble together an emergency response and with the SADC and the international aid partners, they were able to coordinate relief efforts. Therefore, when cyclone Kenneth hit in April, the damage done by the storm was a fraction of the damage caused by Idai[19]. Nevertheless, challenges associated with poor infrastructure and sectarian violence prevented certain areas from being reached[20]. Despite the relief efforts, 1.9-2.1 million people have become food insecure, and it will cost the country around USD 3.4 billion to recover fully from both cyclones[21]. Moreover, attempts to relieve drought-affected areas in the south-west of the country remain under funded and poorly coordinated[22]. If the Mozambican government does not improve its DRM policies and implementation quickly, it risks over taking Madagascar as the SADC nation most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The Case of Zambia

Until 2017 it appeared that Zambia was well prepared for the challenges created by climate change, but a series of poor predictions and decisions have caused a disaster in the country. The first version of the country’s DRM framework was established in 2005. Its policies, however, were updated into the current version – the National Disaster Management Policy (NDMP) adopted in 2015[23]. In 2015/2016, despite below average rainfall across the country, the number of food insecure people dropped. Moreover, in 2016/2017 when the rains returned, the number of food insecure people in Zambia decreased to 77,000[24]. In light of positive predictions and belief in their existing infrastructure, Zambia began to funnel fewer resources into the NDMP[25]. However, an unexpected drought in 2017/2018 followed by the 2018/19 long spell of drought that the country has ever experienced since 1981 stretched the NDMP strategy to its limits exposing its shortcomings[26]. As food shortages ravaged the country, prices of maize and other products soared drastically increasing the number of food insecure people in the region. From 2016/2017-2017/2018 the number of food insecure people increased by 1,139.12% from 77,000 to 954,120 and in 2018/2019 they more than doubled to 2.3 million. Concentrated relief efforts involving SADC partners have helped address and minimise the problem and its consequences[27]. Nevertheless, an estimated USD 89.5 million is still required to help food insecure people in Zambia[28]. Despite its initial success, the NDMP was plagued by inconsistent policies, weak coordination between stakeholders, limited resources, and fragmented social programmes that ultimately contributed to the escalation of the crisis[29]. Unless, these are appropriately addressed, little will be achieved in terms of progress.

The SADC Secretariat provides vital research and meteorological services to member states[30]. However, its capacity to intervene in crises is limited by policy decisions made by local governments. Moreover, none of the SADC economies are large enough to provide long-term support to disaster-prone regions, until the region’s economy is more developed, it will have to rely on foreign aid to manage crises[31]. Furthermore, while the SADC Secretariat is fulfilling its obligation to provide meteorological and climate information, it is not reaching its goals for climate change adaptation or mitigation[32]. If reforms are not put in place, the negative impact of climate shocks felt over the last decade will accumulate and regional economic growth will continue to decline. The successes of Madagascar, the mistakes of Zambia, and the failures of Mozambique should act as lessons for the region. Climate change and potential disasters must be at the forefront of all economic development policies. Moreover, regardless of how strong their current policies are, all SADC states need to start enacting proactive reforms to mitigate the effects of climate change in the following ways:

  1. Cut carbon emissions and develop green industries;
  2. Encourage the use of drought-resistant crops and eco-friendly farming practices;
  3. Ensure disaster response units are well equipped and able to act autonomously;
  4. Build up infrastructure and communication networks;
  5. Invested in local initiatives and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) programmes to lower unemployment and educate communities.

By Ken Kalala Ndalamba and Ross Oliver Douglas


[1] FAO 2019a. 2018/19 El Niño Response Plan for Southern Africa, on the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from http://www.fao.org/; RW 2019a. Southern Africa: Drought: 2018-2020, on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from https://reliefweb.int/.
[2] RW 2019b. Tropical Cyclone Idai – Mar 2019, on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from https://reliefweb.int/; RW 2019c. Tropical Cyclone Kenneth – Apr 2019, on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from https://reliefweb.int/.
[3] SADC 2012b. Meteorology, on the Southern African Development Community Website, viewed on 17 November 2019, from https://www.sadc.int/.
[4] SADC 2012a. Climate Information, ibid.
[5] SADC 2012c. Climate Change Adaptation, on the Southern African Development Community Website, viewed on 17 November 2019, from https://www.sadc.int/.
[6] SADC 2012d. Climate Change Mitigation, on the Southern African Development Community Website, viewed on 17 November 2019, from https://www.sadc.int/.
[7] FAO, UNICEF and WFP 2019. Joint Call for Action to Address the Impacts of Climate Change and a Deepening Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations, and World Food Programme: Rome and New York. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 17 November 2019].
[8] RW 2017. RIASCO Humanitarian Outlook for Southern Africa – November 2017 to April 2018, on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 15 November 2019, from https://reliefweb.int/.
[9] SADC 2019a. Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa¸ Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/.
[10] WB 2019. World Bank Supports Madagascar’s Efforts to Reduce Disaster Risks with $50 Million, on the World Bank Website, viewed on 6 February 2020, form https://www.worldbank.org/.
[11] GFDRR 2019. Madagascar, on the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Website, viewed on 26 March 2020, from https://www.gfdrr.org/.
[12] FEWS NET 2019a. Madagascar: Food Security Outlook, Famine Early Warning Systems Network: Washington, D.C.: Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 20 February 2020].
[13] RW 2020. Madagascar Heavy Rains and Floods Flash Update No. 1 (As of 26 January 2020), on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 26 March 2020, from https://reliefweb.int/; FEWS NET 2019b. An Early Start to the 2019 Cyclonic Season Brings Atypically Heavy Rainfall to Western Madagascar, on the Famine Early Warning Systems Network Website, viewed on 26 March 2020, from https://fews.net/.
[14] GFDRR 2019. Madagascar, ibid.
[15] GoMG 2018. Preparedness and Response to the Cyclones and Floods in Madagascar: A Concrete Progress, Government of Madagascar: Antananarivo. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 5 February 2020]; WB 2019. World Bank Supports Madagascar’s Efforts to Reduce Disaster Risks with $50 Million, ibid.
[16] RW 2019d. Mozambique: Cyclone Idai Flash Update No. 1, 15 March 2019, on the ReliefWeb Website, viewed on 26 March 2020, from https://reliefweb.int/; SADC 2019b. SADC Regional Humanitarian Response Appeal in Response to Cyclone Idai, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 20 February 2020].
[17] UNOCHA 2019a. Mozambique Humanitarian Response Plan: 2018-2020, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: New York. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 6 February 2020]; GFDRR 2017. Mozambique: Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Building Climate Resilience, on the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Website, viewed on 12 April 2020, from https://www.gfdrr.org/.
[18] IOM 2019. Mozambique Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth Response: Situation Report #12, International Organisation for Migration: Grand-Saconnex. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed 27 February 2020].
[19] GoMZ 2019. Mozambique Cyclone Idai Post Disaster Needs Assessment, Government of Mozambique: Maputo. Available At: https://www.undp.org/ [Last Accessed: 26 February 2020].
[20] UNOCHA 2019a. Mozambique Humanitarian Response Plan: 2018-2020, ibid.; Kleinfeld, P. 2019. Cracks Form in Mozambique’s Latest Push for Peace, on The New Humanitarian Website, viewed on 13 April, from https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/.
[21] GoMZ 2019. Mozambique Cyclone Idai Post Disaster Needs Assessment, ibid.; IOM 2019. Mozambique Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth Response: Situation Report #12, ibid.; WFP 2019. Mozambique Emergency Dashboard: October 2019, World Food Programme: Rome. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 13 April 2020].
[22] WFP 2019. Mozambique Emergency Dashboard: October 2019, ibid.
[23] GoZM 2015. Disaster Management Operations Manual, Government of Zambia: Lusaka. Available At: https://www.preventionweb.net/ [Last Accessed: 30 January 2020].
[24] SADC 2019a. Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa¸ ibid.
[25] PoZM 2018. Ministerial Statement: Recent Weather Patterns, Parliament of Zambia: Lusaka, Available At: http://www.parliament.gov.zm/ [Last Accessed: 20 February 2020].
[26] UNOCHA 2019b. Zambia Humanitarian Appeal: 2019-2020, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: New York. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 13 April 2020].
[27] UNOCHA 2019b. Zambia Humanitarian Appeal: 2019-2020, ibid.; RW 2019a. Southern Africa: Drought: 2018-2020, ibid.
[28] SADC 2016a. SADC El Niño Response Coordination, on the Southern African Development Community Website, viewed on 6 February 2020, from https://www.sadc.int/.
[29] GoZM 2019. Zambia Zero Hunger Strategic Review: Report 2018, Government of Zambia: Lusaka. Available At: https://reliefweb.int/ [Last Accessed: 20 February 2020].
[30] SADC 2019c. About SADC Climate Services Centre, on the Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre Website, viewed on 13 April 2020, from http://csc.sadc.int/.
[31] DEA 2015. Climate Change Adaptation Perspectives for the Southern African Development Community, Department of Environmental Affairs: Pretoria. Available At: https://www.environment.gov.za/ [Last Accessed: 24 February 2020].
[32] DEA 2015. Climate Change Adaptation Perspectives for the Southern African Development Community, ibid.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Ken is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Serge is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Tsepiso is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ross Oliver Douglas

Ross is an Editor at PESA.

Charl Swart

Charl is an Editor at PESA.

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

Thabo is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Ross Oliver Douglas

Charl Swart

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Follow PESA Online

Follow PESA Online

Follow us on some of your favourite social media.

Contact Us

Please complete the General Enquiry form and submit it to us for a response. Please use the subject “Media” for all media-related requests.

 

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Click here for more information.

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close