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Climate Change Mitigation: Is Rotary Club Moving In The Right Direction?

By Steve Ephraem

THE issue of climate change in Southern Africa is a thorn in the flesh following a series of tropical cyclones and drought which are experienced in the region.

In Zimbabwe, cyclones entered the scene at the turn of the millennium when Tropical Cyclone Eline hit the south eastern region of the country in February 2000. The cyclone killed 136 people.

The second was Tropical Cyclone Japhet of March 2003 which affected the Zambezi Valley in the north and killed seven people. Tropical Cyclone Dineo of March 2017 was third and it hit Matebeleland North and Matebeleland South provinces killing no one.

It was in March 2019 when Tropical Cyclone Idai ravaged Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. The cyclone killed more than 250 people and left thousands others injured.

Tropical Cyclone Idai was followed by cyclones Chalane of 2020 and Eliose of 2021.

The effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai are still hounding many families in Chimanimani and Chipinge. Hundreds of people are still missing and their whereabouts are still not known. Speculation is rife they might be part of the bodies which were found in Mozambique downstream Rusitu River.

Since the coming of cyclone Idai, people in Chimanimani East, especially in Ngangu and Rusitu Valley become uncertain whenever there is a sign of heavy rains. They fear of losing more lives and livelihoods.

Even if various Non-Governmental Organisations moved into Chimanimani to give psychosocial support to the survivors, the death and missing of family members, neighbours, friends and relatives seem to have long-term effects on them.

The short to long term solution to climate change is mitigation and adaption.

Mitigation is the action of reducing the severity of something. Adaption is the act of changing to better suit a situation.

Climate change mitigation might require reducing or preventing the emitting of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This might call for the use of renewable energies also termed as green energy.

Trees are known to be consumers or trappers of carbons and their destruction results in more carbon gases released into the atmosphere. More trees on planet earth means less gas emissions.

Rotary Club of Chipinge has scored a first by initiating a climate change mitigation program in Chipinge and Chimanimani. The program is focusing on motivating learners to become active in climate change mitigation.

The club has launched a pilot project at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Chipinge town. Rotary is working in collaboration with government arms of Forestry Commission and Environmental Management Agency.

In his remarks during the launch on last week, the President of Rotary Club of Chipinge, Douglas Chiradza, indicated that climate change is affecting everyone in society.

“We feel the effects of tropical cyclones and droughts regardless of one being directly or indirectly affected by the natural disasters,” said Chiradza.

Commenting on the involvement of learners in climate change mitigation, the Forestry Commission’s District Forestry and Extension Officer for Chipinge, Robinson Toronga, emulated Rotary’s focus on the youngsters.

“The kids were born in a very bad era of climate change. They should know that this is not the normal situation for our environment. They should come up with solutions to the climate change. Rotary has managed to catch them young,” said Toronga.

The Guest of Honour, Governor for Rotary District 9210, Manuella Matambo who hails from Mozambique, encouraged the learners to take the mitigation message to their communities.

“We are planting trees with early actors, young kids. We need to teach our children to plant trees because of the climate change problem. The children are our future, our leaders. Let’s teach them to take planting trees into the community,” she said.

Climate change mitigation needs everyone’s participation. The Our Lady of Perpetual Help School learners who participated in the Rotary project are just a tip of an iceberg. Every learner in Zimbabwe should be positive in planting trees wherever one is.

Rotary Club of Chipinge has set the ball rolling. Since environment is the seventh tier of Rotary International, the charity organisation is not going wrong. It’s moving in the right direction