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April 15, 2024
GreentvAfrica News

Saving Zambia’s wetlands.

As the sun sets in central Zambia, orange rays reflect across the Lukanga Swamp, a vast wetland spanning 2,600 km2.

A watery path cuts through the swamp’s reeds and purple water lilies, where dugout canoes pass daily, ferrying fishers to and from their floating camps. Among them is John Chisela, one of more than 6 million people who rely on the wetlands – and the surrounding forests – for food, firewood and income.

But for many here, life is becoming more precarious.

“Fish catches are getting smaller,” says Chisela, who earns US$60 from a 50kg catch, just enough to cover his family’s needs. “But there are no other jobs in the area.”

The Lukanga Swamp is under attack. Across the wetlands, which are home to many endangered species, climate change is driving heatwaves and extreme weather events, like floods and droughts. Parts of the swamp that remain wet throughout the year are increasingly hit by flooding, while drier areas are only getting more parched.

Over-fishing in the wetlands and logging in its bordering forests is rapidly thinning out the region’s natural resources and causing soil degradation.

Globally, wetlands are the planet’s most threatened ecosystem, disappearing across the world at alarming rates, three times faster than forests, while by 2000 some 85 per cent of wetlands present in 1700 had been lost, with conversion to agriculture among the biggest continuous threats to this ecosystem.

“Despite their importance, wetland and forest ecosystems in Zambia are currently experiencing large-scale deforestation and degradation,” said Jean Kapata, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, at a government-hosted event in April 2021.

The government of Zambia is executing a new four-year project to help communities near the Lukanga and Bangweulu wetlands in the Central and Luapula provinces of the country.

Drawing on an increasingly valued approach for building climate resilience, termed ecosystem-based adaptation, the project is restoring wetland and forest ecosystems to reduce the vulnerability of local communities to climate change.

Wetlands and forests reduce the impacts of climate change by absorbing excess rainwater into the ground during floods and providing sources of water during droughts.

As the ecosystem disappears, so too do these vital climate defences, and communities become trapped in the constant oscillation between flood and drought.

The Zambia project is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and funded with US$6 million from the Global Environment Facility, a major funder of climate change projects.

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1 comment

就爱要 June 11, 2022 at 11:49 pm

Where there is a will, there is a way.


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