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Women bear harshest brunt of climate change effects – Mwale

THE Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) says the environmental problems being faced by man today is a clear indication that nature is angry.

Commemorating the World Environmental Day yesterday under the theme: “Ecosystem Restoration”, executive director Engwase Mwale said the importance of the day cannot be over-emphasized as millions of people around the world focus on raising awareness on the importance of nature.

“The World Environment Day as we already know is the United Nations flagship day of promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment,” she said.

Mwale said while climate change affects both men and women, it was truism that women bear the harshest brunt of the negative effect of climate change.

“Nature is continually under human attack by human actions such as industrialisation, urbanisation, clearing of large portions of land for agriculture, charcoal burning and harvest of timber among others,” she noted. “This has led to deforestation and brought our forests plants to a blink of extinction. According to the United Nations report 4.7 million hectares of forest is being lost annually.”

Mwale said the impacts of climate change had not exempted Zambia as it had manifested in form of drought, floods and irregular rainfall pattern in other parts of the country, among others.

She said this had resulted into scarcity and hunger due to loss of crops.

“As stated, women remain among the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change, given their role to manage households and care for family members and hence limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters,” Mwale said. “Drought and erratic rainfall further impairs food security, water and energy stress for their majority of households. Consequently, this escalates girls dropping out of school as a result of the need to help their mothers with the increased household tasks. This cycle of deprivation and inequality undermines the social capital needed to effectively respond to impacts of climate change.”

She said as a contribution towards restoring the environment, NGOCC had been mobilising and building capacities of its member organisations to become a critical constituency and pathways for civil society in raising awareness and to advocate policy reform that takes into account the needs of women and girls.

Mwale said NGOCC had also been working to influence efficiency in cooking solutions through the use of alternative and modern sources of energy.

“With the understanding that small actions do matter in the restoration of the ecosystem, NGOCC is working with both urban and rural communities to reverse the damage by promoting the use of alternative sources of energy such as solar stoves as opposed to the use of charcoal and firewood,” said Mwale. “As women of Zambia we care about our environment and it is key for sustainable development.”

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