If there were any Malawians who thought climate change is not real, the 2015 floods that devastated the country, must have made pay attention to climate change issues. But if still, one was not convinced beyond doubt of the reality and brutality of climate change effects, the past months and weeks must have definitely awakened them up to the reality that climate change.
With several lives and property lost and some cases of disappearing communities that have been razed to the ground by floods, this is the time for every Malawian to put in the work to avert the adverse effects of climate change.
The Ministry of Agriculture has already sounded the alarm that the floods caused by cyclone Idai will reduce the harvest which earlier on the ministry predicted would be good because huge hectares of food and cash crops and livestock have been destroyed.
The changing climate impacts society and ecosystems in a broad variety of ways. Apart from the crops and property that have been damaged, one can expect the human health to be affected too. Cholera and other waterborne diseases for instance, will be another huge disaster that government will grapple with. Climate-related impacts are occurring across the country and over many sectors of the economy.
It is therefore, imperative that as a country, Malawi moves away from the usual reactionary tendency to being proactive in building a resilient country.
With these impacts occurring quite often, there should be deliberate efforts to civic educate people on how they can use climate change information and science to mitigate and adapt to these impacts. This is where the Department of Meteorological and Climate Change Services should come in to tell people how to turn what seems negative into positive. For instance, the Met department and the Ministry of Agriculture should be able to explain what sort of crops are suitable in drought conditions and what crops do well in cases where there is a lot of water. Not only that, famers should be told the right time to plant what crops in order to adapt to the climatic changes.
This would in turn help in averting food shortage caused by effects of climate change.
Climate Change information dissemination has been problematic and coming in bits and pieces. I feel that such information is not usable because it lacks solutions or actions to be taken. There is need to be aggressive in this area.
The floods that have devastated Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe should wake us all up to act in averting climate change impacts.