Climate change: Gender aspect is relevant but not adequate

17Sep 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Climate change: Gender aspect is relevant but not adequate

WITH climatic disturbances intensifying by the day, member of the National Assembly have been consulting on parliamentary initiatives in that regard, evidently on the basis of activism both among women MPs and interested stakeholders outside the House.

The issue at midweek was how to take action to strengthen the enactment and implementation of gender responsible policies, plans and strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

An in-house activist organ, the Tanzanian Women Parliamentarians Group (TWPG), hosted the discussions where a number of MPs asserted that there is need for gender mainstreaming in climate change adaptation. This affirmation was unquestionably accurate but before one discusses the gender aspect, there is need to get a picture of overall solutions. Are we up to the challenge?

Viewers of news programmes on television had an opportunity to get an unhappy illustration of climate change effects in the sweeping devastation of the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian.  These winds and tornadoes used to be sea storms known to sailors and soldiers whose warships regularly scale the seas in this or that mission,  with the names being created during World War II by the US Navy in Asia to reflect the timing and direction of hurricanes. Not they ravage nearby coastal zones, and in East Africa, Hurricane Idai went far inland.

The parliamentary seminar was held in order to enhance public awareness and knowledge on the critical role of gender in implementing climate change actions, organizers said. Perhaps the issue that critically touches women is that sources of water are getting to be more isolated in village areas, in which case rural needs for water compare with urban areas. Natural springs have dried up.

In that case, the Tanzania Gender and Climate Change Action Plan must first articulate the climate change action plan before its gender interface. It is not likely that the parliamentary activists had no ideas there, but the issue is cloudy, as the public is merely guessing. Who in the world is tackling the issue?

So far world attention is glued to the global plan favored by activists, aiming at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 degrees Centigrade by 2030, despite that more countries are moving with gusto to industrialise. New technologies may cut down motor vehicle emissions, but emissions seem to be rising rather than diminishing. The question is to reduce levels of sea water by desalination and then piping the water across the deserts and throw seeds to germinate, creating vast new forests. The world just can’t shout at Brazil to keep the ‘lungs of the earth’ in place after using up all their forests. We must wake up.

Tanzania is fortunately on a ‘leeward’ side in cyclonic movements in the Indian Ocean but a scare came up not so long ago when a cyclone bound for Mtwara and Lindi changed course and lost speed as it diverted to hapless Mozambique – from which we can learn lessons. Bahamas and other cases of devastation appear to suggest that one measure that could help is reserving coastal areas that are not built up intensely to mangrove forests. If dense vegetation exists it can help to trap incoming sea waves and cut their speed, as different from such storms moving from the sea to densely populated urban areas as we saw in the Bahamas. Perhaps if NGOs direct their energies to mangrove forests along the coast, and seek foreign assistance, they could make a genuine difference.