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Adverse impacts of climate change and development challenges: integrating adaptation in policy and development in Zambia

Zambia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to the high level of reliance on natural resources; more than 60% of Zambians depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and wood fuel is the main cooking energy for over 90% of households. Weather variability in the 2001/2002 period led to a 42% decrease in maize production and drought is likely to severely affect national food security resulting in lower economic growth.

The Zambian government is currently a signatory to the UNFCCC and the UNCCD in addition to the Kyoto Protocol and the Rio Convention; climate change related policy initiatives are therefore already being dealt with. The author concludes that Zambia is already on the right path of development although some suggestions and recommendations are recognised:

  • the government should identify priority sectors and technologies necessary for integrating adaptation
  • improvements should be made to climate prediction models, drought-resistant phenotypes and infrastructure
  • adult literacy classes should be promoted with suitable communication strategies developed for all classes of society
  • vulnerability of communities can be mitigated through strengthening and diversification of sustainable livelihoods

Although the integration of climate change related issues are integrated into mainstream development policy, the Disaster Management Policy for Zambia is weakly enforced and this has the potential to produce significant results.