Africa, particularly its women, faces the most adverse consequences of climate change, despite having made the smallest contribution to the phenomenon.
“The… most vulnerable and will suffer the most from its effects. Academics estimate that an additional two million people, mainly women, in sub-Saharan Africa will be affected by water shortages,” said Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
She was speaking at the Socialist International Climate Change Commission in Mexico City. The gathering comes just a few days before the beginning of the 16th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) in Cancun.
Dlamini Zuma, who is representing South Africa at the forum, said that women in sub-Saharan Africa made up 70% of smallholder farmers. It is their main source of income and food for their families.
“Climate change, which is expected to bring droughts and floods, will affect food production negatively. The seriousness increases when we consider the socio-economic challenges already experienced by Africans in general and women and children in particular,” said the minister.
She spoke of the ripple effect climate change will have on the quality of life.
“Changes in climate will also bring more illness, especially to the young and the aged and those without adequate nutrition and drinking water will become more vulnerable to illness and disease,” said Dlamini Zuma.
She emphasized the need to educate women and children about the effects of climate change. She also called for a paradigm shift in the way governments worldwide dealt with climate change.
“The only way for a future international climate change regime to [change things] is to place new legal obligations on countries through an agreement with multilaterally legally binding instruments,” said Dlamini Zuma, adding that more investment was needed in clean and renewable energy.
The minister reiterated the importance of governments, NGOs, community-based organisations, academics, business and communities to work together to reduce carbon emissions.
COP 16 will run in Cancun from 29 November – 10 December. – BuaNews