We have heard ‘Climate Change’ so much in the past decade that sometimes it is hard to not get complacent; Al Gore has become a joking subject for round table dinners and T-shirts have made it seem like a fad and yet the challenges of Climate change are real especially for a country like ours.
It is refreshing to see that our government is proactively creating awareness and advocating for more trees, etc. I cannot help but wonder, however, if on the flip side, anything is being done about the widespread use of solid biomass (charcoal and firewood) that is effectively undermining these efforts.
Cutting to the chase: what exactly does this phenomenon have to do with us? After all, we are far enough from the ice caps and coastal lines to claim safety in our ‘landlockedness’, right? When the Arctic ice caps melt, we will be the last men standing (blame my imagination on Hollywood).
Unfortunately, the reality is grim… Even though Africa as a whole contributes 4 percent of greenhouse Carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere, it is actually the hardest hit continent by the resulting climate changes.
Rwanda is therefore no exception. For example, even though the Famine Early Warning System lists Rwanda as ‘satisfactory’, the drought-triggered famine that we witnessed in South-Eastern Rwanda a number of years ago is a testament to our vulnerability.
This goes hand in hand with the question of long-term water supply and reliability in a country that, even though has a number of lakes, cannot claim to be rich in water resources.
Precipitation changes will be a scourge on the agricultural sector on two fronts ( I am no expert to know which one): either extreme climate (low rainfall) would induce soil infertility or the impacts of flooding from increased rainfall would be quite a challenge to rein in.
Long-term dryness can induce ecosystem changes with river levels going down and acceleration of vector disease transmission.
So what now? Well, seeing as the production of these greenhouses gases is far from being significantly reduced, our job is to be far-sighted and focus on ways to mitigate the damage that lies ahead (as well as what we are facing right now).
One idea alongside creation of awareness vis-à-vis climate change would be to invest in research to develop customized adaptation options that build resiliency such as focus in geothermal and supporting off-grid renewable energy.
Also, we could and should (if we have not already) take advantage of the Australian food security centre offering technical expertise in the methods being used by Australia to cope with the challenges environmental change has brought to their country.
This invaluable training would help Rwandan farmers increase their yields even as the situation threatens to become severe.
Frankly speaking, at the end of the day, self-reliance and proactive survival mechanisms will be our only light of hope. There are dozens of ways to counter the numerous effects of environmental change but none of those ways should be to sit back and wait.
A definite plan that articulates how we will go about mitigating the consequences of climate change is in order.Follow https://twitter.com/rwandalavender