During the 21st Conference of Parties (CoP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris France last year, African leaders made their point clear: “Let the biggest polluters pay for their sins”.
In fact, South Africa President Jacob Zuma said failure by developed nations to play their part in climate financing would create an impression that a few privileged nations, which created the climate change crisis, are not sympathetic about its impact on the majority.
Africa’s argument is that the continent’s contribution through greenhouse gas emissions is insignificant. Africa is very vulnerable to climate change given its low capacity to respond and adapt.
According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when comparing the greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the typical African country with the typical European country, the Europeans emit roughly 50-100 times more, while the Americans emit 100-200 times more.
Nsanje District, with a population of around 200 000 people, suffers from the effects of climate change through drought and floods.
Communities such as those from the nine villages under senior group village head (SGVH) Nsamba, nder Traditional Authority (T/A) Chimombo have poor access to water-with boreholes flooding and silting up-and seasonal droughts, both of which affect their crops.
In what could be seen as response to cries from African leaders at the CoP21, the Scottish Government through Christian Aid under the Climate Justice Fund, has funded the Churches Action in Relief and Development (Card) to implement a climate justice project in Nsamba area.
The project, according to Card irrigation officer Mike Mwale, will improve community resilience to climatic hazards through increased water supply and food security.
“The project will provide safe drinking water to about 1 500 households in Nsanje District through the installation of two solar irrigation pumps and the establishment of water points in communities.
“We have one pump at GVH Melo which will cost K40 million (about $62 893) while that at Nsamba will cost around 60 000 euros [around K45 million],” he said.
Kaponthoka Nyirongo, a foreman for the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) which is constructing the scheme at Melo Village, explains the philosophy behind such a system.
“We will install 20 solar panels at the pump house to push water from the ground to the bladder tank. If that tank is filled, then the water will be filled in the sprinklers for irrigation.
“The bladder is like a reservoir, in case something happens, but will also be used to keep water for taps that people will be using for domestic purposes,” he says.
With low water levels in Nsamba, the irrigation pump is located about five kilometres away in the area of GVH Chimombo.
“We have underground pipes that will take water to Nsamba where, just like at Melo, we will install some taps where people can draw water for domestic purposes and other pipes will be used in the scheme for irrigation,” added Mwale.
Unlike at Melo scheme, there is no bladder tank at the pump house for the system to Nsamba.
“This system will have 60 solar panels because it is about four to five kilometres to get to Nsamba and you need a lot of energy to do that,” says Charles Msowoya, Card’s project manager in Nsanje.
Msowoya expressed optimism that the project will improve household food levels in the targeted areas.
“Nsanje is a disaster prone district and there is need to improve community resilience to such shocks. By building climate resilience among the poor households, the project will contribute towards eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.”
Village Head Kalikokha under GVH Melo concurs with Msowoya. Showing off nyika (wild tuber) which, he said, most people in the area are now surviving on, Kalikokha said the scheme could not have come at a better time than this.
“Go around our maize fields, they are all dry. We are now surviving on nyika. And when the scheme finally becomes operational, it will be the folly of any individual not to utilise it. My people will no longer be grappling with shortage of food, no more eating Nyika,” he enthused. n