Climate change is the long term alteration of global weather patterns particularly temperature and storm activity which occur as a result of the greenhouse effect. With scholars predicting deterioration in global environmental conditions in the 21st century, we must focus our attention on the implications this situation will have particularly to human population and settlement. The resulting displacement has led to a rise in “environmental refugees” as more communities leave their homes in search of alternative sources of livelihood. (Ketel, 2004, p. 2)
Immigration due to Global warming A study by the United Nations reveals that human migration caused by global warming is expected to surpass all previous displacements. The effects of flooding, desertification and environmental pollution are partly or wholly credited to global warming (Ketel, 2004, p. 15). In countries such as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh which experience perennial flooding, community based and non-governmental organizations are collaborating with the local communities to raise awareness on disaster preparedness and disaster management practices.
The Zimbabwe Case study Most of north and eastern Zimbabwe has been demarcated as flood prone areas, particularly the districts of Mzarabani and Guruve located within the low lying Zambezi basin. Initially, these areas were sparsely populated due to adverse environmental conditions that rendered them uninhabitable. However after realizing that the area had a high economic potential, the government opened it up for agricultural exploitation and settlement a condition that has exposed its inhabitants to floods and mudslides.
Successful undertakings Since 2008, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has participated in relief efforts to provide assistance to families in these areas such as providing blankets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and water purifying tablets as well as coordinating information on the number of displaced people and where they have been resettled. Community based projects have been initiated aimed at empowering the local community with the skills to withstand flooding thereby mitigating its effects.
Structural measures were aimed at constructing dams and channels to control run-off during the rainy season while non-structural measures focused on resettlement, forecasting and setting aside areas to settle the displaced. (Madamombe, 2005, p. 18) In early 2007, such efforts bore fruit as hundreds of families were safely evacuated into Arda Estates of Mzarabani District following devastating floods that swept away over 600 homesteads in Chadereka Village.
The displaced families were then allocated small plots within the Estates for subsistence farming while the remainder had to rely on handouts from NGOs such as Catholic Development Commission (CADEC) and IOM. Assistance required in undertaking program These projects required some level of assistance in the form of multi-sectoral meetings on flood management, funding, campaigns and governmental legislation on disaster management.
The Zimbabwe government introduced the Civil Protection Act, the Water Act (1998) and the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Act each aimed at addressing an action plan of action for disaster management/mitigation. Zimbabwe is also a member of the Zambezi Action Program (ZACPRO), an initiative which aims to integrate all countries lying within the Zambezi basin to utilize it as a shared resource. However, each country follows its own policy on managing its portion of the Zambezi basin.
(Madamombe, 2004, p. 3) Shortcomings The Zimbabwe government faced a variety of hurdles in its resettlement efforts; inadequate funding, disease, resistance from local families and logistical barriers. The government’s expenditure on disaster management is quite minimal and hence in a major catastrophe, private sector and international community would have to be approached for assistance. (Madamombe, 2005, p. 20)
Since resettlement is a recurrent process, most displaced families returned to their homes preferring to risk another flood than surrender their dignity and independence by living in resettlement camps. Conflicts due to poor vetting of displaced persons led to undeserving cases receiving handouts while the genuine cases remained in despair and uncertainty. Greater effort is therefore required in undertaking civic education to curtail the humanitarian situation from spiraling out of control. References
Ketel, H. (2004). Global Warming and Human Migration: Climate Change, Human Systems and Policy. Oxford, UK: Eolss Publishers. Madamombe, E. (2004) Zimbabwe: Flood Management Practices – Selected Flood prone areas Zambezi Basin. Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership. Madamombe, E. (2005). Associated Programme on Flood Management: Overview Situation Paper on Flood Management Practices. Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership.