We cannot dodge the bullet. No one can. Climate change effects are here with us and they won’t dissipate away on their own. There is an urgent need for a drastic change of the way we have been doing things. All bad things that have brought us to this point should urgently be abandoned and stopped once and for all. Otherwise we are turning into our worst enemies. It is in times like these that we appreciate our pro-conservation leadership. President Ian Khama is a Board member of Conservation International.
This then means when he talks about the value of exercising more pro-active approach to conservation he is believable. This also explains why even though he does always attend international summits, he made it a point to attend this year’s COP21 and was among the leading speakers. “Climate change is having far reaching consequences and it should be given the urgent attention it deserves. Botswana like many countries has not been spared by climate change and we continue to incur considerable costs in addressing challenges of both environmental and economic nature,” he said in his address to the Summit. The country is reeling from the worst drought in decades.
This is a phenomenon that has swept throughout Southern Africa. As it is rains have been delayed and hence the ploughing season has not fully taken off. This happens on the back of a year in which little was produced from the farms in the previous season. It means therefore that our grain storage is running dry. And with this having affected almost all countries in the region, Botswana will have to look far away to secure grain and all essential consumer commodities. The reduced rainfall levels are being felt in all households across the country as major dams have dried up and for the first time in ages families struggle to get water supply.
Gaborone Dam has dried up and attempts to draw water from the north are slow and constantly challenged by the breaking down of pipelines. Supply from South Africa had to be discontinued due to the drying up of their dam. Botswana has now signed a water supply agreement with Lesotho to draw water from their dam. This won’t be immediate or easy as another big investment has to be made in setting up a pipeline from that country. Nothing is easy or will be! This is why an MP from the ruling party who called for a declaration of State of Emergency due to the severe water shortage in Gaborone (Capital City) and surrounding areas, found it hard to believe when he was denied chance to table his motion and burst out in tears.
These are hard times. It calls for immediate and sustainable steps to ensure that we avoid even more adverse effects that are bound to come unless action is taken against Climate Change. We need to reduce carbon emissions and all nations must commit to this. It is unfair that the developed countries, which are key polluters of the environment, should fail to play a leading role in attacking the scourge of carbon emissions. In addressing the Summit Khama referred to the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa Initiative which emanated from the 2012 first ever Summit on Sustainability in Africa and was attended by 10 countries.
As hosts and a leading country in that initiative we should lead by example and have physical and real projects that demonstrate our commitment to Sustainable Development. We need not just talk about Going Green and adopting Clean Energy but must do so. We need to scale up our solar energy initiatives on the face of power shortage challenges that we face.