Towards a Common Vision of Climate, Peace, and Security in Zambia
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12 آب/أغسطس 2023 Author :   Friday Phiri

LUSAKA, Zambia (PAMACC News) - Dickson Zulu is part of the traditional leadership of Mphoza Village in Chief Nzamane's Chiefdom of the Ngoni people in the Eastern Province. For over five decades, he has been farming on a piece of land left to him by his late parents.

However, in recent times, he has seen shrinking yields with each passing farming season from his farmland. He blames this on what he terms 'tired crop land'. In other words, due to conventional farming methods involving continuous tilling and the use of synthetic fertilizers, Headman Zulu believes the land has been overused and has lost fertility for profitable farming activities.

“Our forefathers used the same land and left it to us. With continuous fertilizer use and tilling, I think we have overused this land to a point that it can no longer support profitable agricultural activities,” says Headman Zulu. “You see,” Zulu continues, “In the late 90s and early 2000s, we witnessed a massive migration of people from this area in search of fertile crop farmland. Most of the people who left went and settled mainly in the fertile portions of Mambwe District, which was then, and up to now considered to still have virgin and fertile crop land. Had it not been that I am a traditional leader, I would have left as well,” Headman Zulu laments about his predicament.

The semi-arid district of Mambwe, located approximately 700 km from Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, lies in the Luangwa Valley, northwest of the Eastern Provincial capital, Chipata. Mainly inhabited by the Kunda people, the district is located in the country's agro-ecological region I, which receives less than 800mm of rainfall annually. It is thus more famous for tourism than agriculture, as it hosts the South Luangwa National Park—considered one of the last remaining unspoiled regions of Africa, offering a unique and unforgettable safari experience.

However, while most of the local people depend on seasonal jobs in the tourism sector (safari and tour operators), the surrounding Game Management Area (GMA), particularly on the eastern border with the recently declared Chipangali District and parts of the Msoro area bordering Katete District in the south, still has portions of virgin and fertile land for agricultural activities. The aforementioned areas have in the last two decades seen an influx of farmers from other parts of the province seeking fertile cropland for agricultural activities.

Internal Migration and Climate Change

Internal migration caused by a mix of factors, particularly environmental degradation resulting from poor land husbandry practices, as well as intensifying climate variability and extremes, has led to increased encroachment into the buffer zone between the National Park and the GMA. This has resulted in increased human-animal conflicts and poaching activities.

This trend confirms new and emerging research by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security), which indicates that internal displacement and mobility patterns have also been reinforced by climate variability and extremes with dire implications for human security and social stability more broadly.

The CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security research finds that extreme flooding events generate new mobility and displacement trends, where limited livelihood opportunities and poor infrastructure in refugee settlements, coupled with environmental degradation and high exposure to climate-related shocks, are further shaping vulnerabilities and protection risks for forcibly displaced people, particularly women and girls.

Moreover, in the southern province of Zambia, rural-to-urban migration from the south to the Central and Northern Provinces is increasing and more frequently used to adapt to slow-onset climatic events that are decreasing agricultural outputs. However, in receiving areas where socio-ecological systems are already under stress due to population growth and other urbanization trends, social tensions are rising between migrants and hosting communities over access to limited economic and livelihood opportunities, as well as natural resources.

“It is clear that climate is affecting common drivers of insecurity and that tensions and fragility are affecting our ability to increase resilience and achieve Sustainable Development Goals,” said Grazia Pacillo, Co-Lead of the CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security team during the opening of the workshop “Towards a Common Vision of Climate, Peace, and Security in Zambia” held in Lusaka on the 11th and 12th of July and supported by the One CGIAR Initiatives on Climate Resilience (ClimBer) and Fragility, Conflict, and Migration (FCM). “We live in an era of polycrisis, where the accelerating climate shocks, hunger, food insecurity, forced displacement and migration, and ultimately tension and fragility have become increasingly interconnected and are affecting the most vulnerable and most marginalized groups in our society," she added.

Thus, by working closely with national stakeholders, including ministries, universities, and civil society groups, the CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security Initiative aims to generate action-oriented evidence on the possible implications of climate impacts on peace and stability. This would inform a substantial shift in the way climate adaptation and mitigation strategies in agriculture are undertaken, promoting a systemic and holistic approach and leveraging land, food, and water systems to promote stability, peace, and security.

And the Zambian Government is alive to the realities facing the most vulnerable communities and the fragilities being worsened by the adverse impacts of climate change, noting the importance of adopting comprehensive and systemic approaches to address the cascading challenges and risks posed by climate change.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Dr. Douty Chibamba, highlighted the importance of recognizing the interplay between climate change, agri-food systems, and possible negative implications for peace and security.

"Climate variability and extremes can intensify inequalities, tensions, and conflicts, leading to poverty, hunger, displacement, and weakened resilience. Therefore, fostering peaceful and stable environments and creating resilient systems is essential for sustainable food, land, water systems, and overall human security," said Dr. Douty Chibamba in a speech read on his behalf by Director, Green Economy and Climate Change, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, who is also Chair of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change.

And speaking in his capacity as AGN Chair, Shitima pointed to the youth as an important group that must be targeted for all climate action strategies to succeed, particularly for climate, peace, and security related programs due to their (Youths) relentless search for economic opportunities.

The AGN Chair pointed out that youth involvement would support peace and security efforts at two levels; keeping them out of trouble (not to be used tools in conflicts); and secondly, the importance of harnessing their yet-to-be-spoiled minds for a total mindset change, a key factor in achieving transformative climate action at all levels.

“It is for this reason that as AGN, we have embarked on a transformative agenda targeting young people, especially females,” said Shitima. “This year, we have so far trained over 46 young female negotiators to be part of the larger AGN team of negotiators. We believe keeping youth engaged in these processes and activities helps to keep them away from trouble. More importantly, we believe the fight against climate change will not be won without the involvement of young people; they still have room for total transformation in terms of attitude and technological know-how for the required climate action at all levels.”

Climate Resilience Approach

Back in the Mambwe district, several organizations are undertaking anti-poaching and other alternative livelihood activities. However, adverse impacts of climate change in the form of frequent and severe droughts, increased dry spells, and flash floods are threatening the already fragile agricultural sector in the valley.

To diversify the district's economy, the government and its cooperating partners have been encouraging farming activities in recent years, with a particular focus on climate-smart approaches. In fact, Mambwe is one of the 16 districts where the 'Strengthening Climate Resilience of Agricultural Livelihoods in Agro-Ecological Regions I and II in Zambia' project is being implemented.

The $32 million US Dollars Green Climate Fund (GCF)-financed project aims to strengthen farmers' capacity to plan for climate risks that threaten development gains. It promotes climate-resilient agricultural production and diversification practices to improve food security and income generation, enhance access to markets, and foster the commercialization of climate-resilient agricultural commodities.

Under the stewardship of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project is being implemented by the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). These organizations are delivering an integrated set of technical services to build climate-resilient food security and reduce poverty for approximately 940,000 people.

Minister of Agriculture, Reuben Mtolo Phiri, stated that the Zambian government is committed to supporting comprehensive approaches to climate adaptation and resilience. “The government recognizes the concerns related to conflict and climate change. Due to low levels of resilience, the climate crisis disproportionately affects poor and vulnerable households. As a result, we are implementing various interventions such as strengthening research and extension, improving seed systems, and disaster risk reduction programs to help our people adapt to climate change impacts,” said the Minister in a speech read on his behalf by Paul Mumba, Deputy Director for Planning.

According to CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security, over the last three decades, climate trends show that annual temperatures have increased by 1.3°C since 1960, and by 2050, Zambia is expected to face a rise of 1.5 - 3°C.

Drought and water scarcity reduce access to clean and safe water, exposing rural populations and livestock to disease outbreaks and intensifying competition over water points. This disrupts economic activities and causes losses and damage to the agriculture sector, which remains the largest source of income for rural households.

In a country where climatic stressors and shocks are shaping millions of lives and driving significant unfavorable societal transformations, with gendered impacts, understanding the potential peace and security implications of such changes is essential to develop strategies to prevent and mitigate the erosion of social capital and relationships, as well as associated grievances that can lead to conflict.

In July 2023, CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security brought together experts from ministries, international organizations, civil society, and academia to discuss a common agenda for climate, peace, and security in Zambia. The aim was to enhance food security and climate resilience, as well as promote a more inclusive and socially equitable society. The workshop, held in Lusaka, aimed to build evidence and improve understanding of current and projected conditions under which climate-related risks to peace and security could arise, with a particular focus on gender and intersectional social issues. It also aimed to identify priority actions and more integrated approaches to mitigate and address identified risks in national-level policies and programming for climate action. Additionally, the workshop aimed to promote the cross-fertilization of expertise and explore potential areas for further collaboration and entry points for joint actions to simultaneously advance climate resilience and sustaining peace objectives.

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