Director of environmental affairs Tawonga Mbale Luka has called for unified efforts to combat climate change, saying no sector can overcome the phenomenon President Peter Mutharika termed more tragic than war.
She was speaking at a side event organised by the Least Developed Countries Fund (LCDF) on the sidelines of the global climate change negotiations underway in Madrid, Spain.
Malawi is running three LCDF programmes to help communities adapt and strengthen their resilience to climate shocks. They include Climate Adaptation for Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture, Adapt Plan and Climate Proofing.
Speaking at the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Luka said the community-led projects have taught the country that no LDC can triumph over the harsh consequences unless all sectors work in harmony.
She stated: “As one of the hardest-hit Least Developed Countries, we know we have to take measures and adapt, but we also need to come up with innovative approaches if sectors do not work together.
“In the LCDF-funded projects, we worked with the locals, including women, to identify problems and solutions. Through an integrated approach involving various sectors—agriculture, water, fisheries and environmental affairs—we have gathered a lot of lessons that work in our setting. All sectors need to work as one.”
The projects did not just focus on conserving natural resources and combating climate change, but also how to improve the livelihood of the people so as to reduce pressure on nature, especially trees, water bodies and fish.
However, Adapt Plan, funded by the LCDF through the United Nations Development Programmme (UNDP), led to the formulation of guidelines backing the imperative for various departments to integrate climate action in their activities and budgets.
Civil Society Network on Climate Change coordinator Julius Ngoma commended government for making the intergrated approach the bedrock of the formulation of the National Adaptation Plans, with departmental plans being contrived by the ministries responsible for health, agriculture and water.
“This is good news. For many years, climate change has been seen as cross-cutting issues, but many sectors continue operating in isolation and doing business as usual because they do not understand the impacts of climate change on what they do and the people they are supposed to serve,” he said.
However, the climate activist warned Malawi and other African nations against celebrating the formulation of documents, saying time to act is now.
The climate talks opened on Monday, with the United Nations chief Antonio Gutterres calling for bold and more ambitious national action plans in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and global warming which have devastating effects on fragile economies like Malawi.
Speaking on behalf of the LCDs, Mutharika said climate change has become the most catastrophic tragedy of our time as it claims innocent lives, frustrates national economies and inflicts untold suffering on many people everywhere.
“Man is at war with nature,” he said. “In scale, this [climate change]
is more colossal than any other war known to us.”
Mutharika said Malawi needs about K375 billion to recover from the devastating aftermaths of floods and hailstorms caused by Cyclone Idai in March. The tragedy affected nearly 870 000 people, killing about 50 and displacing nearly 80 000 who sought refuge in 173 congested camps in the southern half of the country.