Premature end of rainy season blamed on climate change

Innocent Ruwende in Nyanga
Environmentalists have attributed the premature end of the official rainy season in most provinces as well as other extreme events like flooding in the country to the effects of climate change. The Meteorological Services Department recently said for Matabeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and the southern parts of Manicaland provinces, drizzles will be the main form of rain till the end of the season in the first week of April and Government is now mobilising funds to augment low yields expected.

The head of the Climate Change Department in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Mr Washington Zhakata said rain seasons were becoming shorter and unpredictable as a result of climate change.

“There are observable imbalances in the distribution of moisture at global scale which is more evident at periods of abundance of rainfall or snowfall in one part of the world, resulting in rainfall deficits in the other parts of the world.

“In the past two decades or so, Zimbabwe has been experiencing bad seasonal distribution of rainfall year in year out as a result of the changing climate attributable to global warming.

“The country experienced excessive rainfall in January, and to balance nature, another part of the season pays for this through reduced moisture availability manifesting through extended dryness in a period that is expected to be having precipitation,” he said.

The chief executive of the Agricultural Research Council, Dr Isiah Mharapara, said the capacity of the environment to retain soil moisture, which is the critical component for biomass production in agriculture, is being compromised by land degradation.

“There is need to harness land degradation and use climate smart agricultural practices and approaches to adapt to the changing climate,” he said.

Agricultural Technical and Extension Services official Mr Assah Mudhefi said climate change effects include early termination of rains, increase in temperature, increase in frequency of seasonal drought and more frequent mid-season drought.

“There is poor level of preparedness by small holder farmers mostly due to lack of access to early warning information.

“Sometimes the country receives normal to above normal rainfall but the distribution is poor hence agriculture output is low.

“There is need to improve access by farmers to early warning information in the form of seasonal forecast and warning on impending disasters like floods,” he said.

Mr Mudhefi said there is also need to invest more in ensuring improved access to knowledge by farmers about their local climate for improved planning and decision making.

The experts were speaking during a workshop in which the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate is consulting other partners in formulating the National Climate Policy.