By Thomas Psyata
The draft Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MDGSS III) from 2017 to 2022 strives to build a productive, competitive and resilient nation that competes on the global scene. The strategy among other key priority areas has Climate Change Management.
The priority area reflects the aspiration of the development strategy to build a resilient nation amidst various natural disasters.
For the past three years, some parts of Malawi have been hit by drought while other areas got torrential excessive rains. The trends to a greater extent affected many sectors including energy and agriculture.
The most obvious effect of such climatic issue has been low agricultural production and resulted into hunger in some households.
The problem however has been the usual one, reliance on rain fed agriculture.
Nevertheless, the country seemed to have realized the solution to such reliance which took many people by surprise. For some years now, government and other stakeholders started to talk of irrigation farming.
In 2016, government launched an irrigation master plan that if implemented well could guide the country’s irrigation activities and defy nature and indeed climate change.
Sustainable irrigation is indeed the only solution to the current challenges of climate change which pose a threat to national food security.
However as many people have noticed, the current irrigation activities are done on small scale and its impact may not be felt instantly.
Furthermore, most irrigation activities are unsustainable as many are done in flood prone areas and in government servitude.
It is also indisputable that the country’s energy sector that is failing to produce enough power for farmers to use to sustain their irrigation activities.
The energy sector has also been a victim of poor human activities that led to deforestation and siltation of most rivers.
The journey through Shire River testifies how cruel human activities have led to siltation in the greatest river in the country.
It is gratifying to note that the entirety of the country seems to have awakened to the threats of climate change, including the government, agricultural sector, energy industries and the educational system.
However, there is need to match the realization and actions to reduce activities that contribute to climate change.
The current trends of floods in cities and towns are manifestation of how disconnected some city and town councils are from the aspirations to build a resilient nation.
Most cities and towns in the country lack proper planning and construction. Most houses due to overpopulation are built along the rivers and qualify for victims of natural disasters including floods.
The Paris Convention on climate Change emphasize on member states to create sustainable cities and environment. Such sustainable cities demand that countries strive to provide clean, renewable, and robust energy for the consumers and the country as a whole.
The whole responsibility rests in the hands of city authorities and residents. In the current situation who is to blame?
At this juncture the million dollar question is; how is Malawi training for tomorrow’s technology to deal with today’s climate and energy problems?
Most countries that have achieved resilient nations to climate change have done so with the help of other stakeholders including the education sector.
In this case institutions of higher learning become integral in coming up with adequate technology.
It gives hope that the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), Polytechnic a constituent college of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) offers technical education in energy sector through the faculty of built environment.
However, the more universities both public and private that we have should invest in coming up with technologies that can make a resilient nation that can compete at a global level.
At primary and secondary level, authorities should come up with curricula that instill responsibility in learners to build resilient societies.
Such curricula should advocate for sustainable means of production so that learners grasp resilience at a crucial age.
And this calls for a holistic approach when dealing with this challenge and indeed institutions of higher learning should wake up from their slumber and lead in research and innovations on sustainable productions that can assure resilience of communities and the nation as a whole.
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