EMA embarks on biogas clean energy initiatives

Lovemore Ranga Mataire

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has embarked on biogas projects in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development as part of its initiative in promoting the use of clean energy.

At the initial phase, the biogas projects are focusing on institutions as a way of reaching out to more people and for easy maintenance of the infrastructure.

EMA spokesperson Steady Kangata said his organisation was also working in partnership with the Zimbabwe Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Environment Africa, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and HIVOs.

“So far we have implemented c projects at Zongoro Secondary School and St Mathias Tsonzo High School in Manicaland Province. Feedstock for the digesters is obtained from piggery projects and the schools are using the generated energy for their home economics departments.

“At Mathias Tsonzo, the biogas project gave birth to a fisheries project that uses effluent from the biogas digester. Linkages with the REA is underway to ensure a joint effort in biogas provision to institutions with the knock on effects to individual households,” said Kangata.

On solar energy, Kangata said the agency was working with Oxfam in the provision of solar powered boreholes to community projects.

Under the solar energy programme, diesel and electric powered irrigation systems are being replaced by solar powered systems. He said the current challenge being faced is of climate proofing the equipment to protect it from extreme weather conditions such as hail storms.

Kangata said education was an essential element of the global response to climate change in that an empowered society is able to understand and address the impacts of climate change, encourages changes in their attitudes and behaviour and helps them adapt to climate change-related trends.

“Through its environmental education programme, EMA aims to increase “climate literacy” by educating the public through programs in schools “to catch them young” and teaching communities to adapt to the change of the climate and by promoting sustainable environmental projects,” Kangata said.

He said an international legal obligation was in place for countries to educate citizens on climate change.

Under Article 6 of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, signatories are obliged to: ‘Promote and facilitate, the development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects’.

In line with this international statute, EMA has initiated environmental clubs in schools that are aimed at educating young people on climate change, the causes and the impacts that comes with climate change.

These clubs have a key role in showing young people that not only do they have wider responsibilities, but also that they are entitled to involvement in decisions and that positive growth needs new generations who both understand the need for alternative development and have the passion and desire to act.

Kangata said reducing  the  vulnerability  of  communities  to  the  impacts  of  climate  change  requires  detailed  cross-sectorial  dialogue  between  experts  in  key  sectors  such  as  land,  water, agriculture,  health,  energy,  tourism  among  others.

He said EMA was in the process of implementing the scaling up adaptation in Zimbabwe through strengthening integrated planning systems project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The project, he said seeks to strengthen planning and budgeting processes, development and climate change adaptation investment frameworks at the national, provincial and district levels with a focus on the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Process for effective climate change programme/ activity implementation.

The scaling up adaptation project is intended to promote mainstreaming of a range of gender segregated approaches for adaptation to climate change within the various sector policies, strategies and plans.

It is also aimed at integrating climate change adaptation into national, provincial and local level planning and budgeting processes which is key to scaling up adaptation. Kangata said the project is being implemented in 15 districts of Chiredzi, Buhera , Chimanimani, Beitbridge,  Binga,  Bubi,  Matobo,  Umguza,  Mangwe,  Gwanda,  Umzigwane,  Tsholotsho,  Bulilima, Mwenezi and Zaka.  Local authorities and locally based structures in these areas have been trained in climate education.

The agency is also implementing small grain projects in partnership with Community Technology Development Trust in 16 wards of Buhera; Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe; Tsholotsho and Shurugwi districts. The four districts experience low rainfall (600 mm per annum) and high evaporation averaging (2 000 mm per annum). Socio-economic and ecological impacts arising from droughts in these districts include shortage of water, food insecurity and environmental degradation.

At least 1 650 households across the four districts are said to be direct beneficiaries of the project. The thrust of the project is to enhance the food and livelihood security of vulnerable families through promoting the growing of drought tolerant small grain crops such as cow peas, sorghum and groundnuts in order to create a food safety net in drought situations reducing people’s    livelihoods dependence from natural resource.

In Chiredzi, smallholder farmers are engaged in livelihood diversification as a way of spreading the risk and uncertainty of drought. Among the most promising option towards building a drought resilient community being implemented is the promotion of improved small grain crops and fishery projects.

Kangata said EMA is educating communities on climate change adaptation by promoting climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies, post-harvest management, animal husbandry and marketing.

October 2017
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