BY PRINCE HENDERSON
Faith Leaders drawn from various Church mother bodies that include Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM), Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and Anglican Council of Malawi (ACM) have been challenged to take a leading role in mitigating effects of Climate in the country.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines, Bright Msaka made the appeal when he opened a day-long Climate Change Symposium for religious leaders in Lilongwe organized by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi through its relief and development arm, Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) with funding from Trocaire.
He said climate change is a serious global problem that requires immediate and urgent attention.
“Malawi as a country has not been exempted from the effects of climate change. We have been ranked the third most vulnerable country to climate change in the report on Global Climate Risk Index 2017. This is the reality of global warming and its devastating effects on a developing country like ours,”he said.
According to Msaka,over the recent years, climate change has caused some serious and recurrent weather catastrophes in Malawi.
He said like for instance, in 2015, the country experienced devastating floods that were unprecedented in living memory.
“These floods affected 1.1 million people, with over 106 confirmed deaths. The floods also caused widespread damage to crops, livestock, homes, as well as roads and bridges,” Msaka said.
Chairman for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, His Grace Thomas Msusa said religious leaders are crucial in the society as they interact with the faithful hence issues of Climate Change would easily be addressed.
“It requires no emphasis that Climate Change has affected us as a nation negatively; We have examples of recurrent floods and droughts which are now affecting the food security situation in the country,” said Msusa.
The Archbishop of Blantyre Archdiocese said when Climate Change impacts affect food production, the effects enter the human life domain.
He said food insecurity is an evil in itself as it dehumanizes the very being of human person.
“The issue of food insecurity has hit us badly in Malawi; that we have 6.7 million people depending on humanitarian assistance to meet their food entitlements worries us so much as religious leaders. It is for this reason that a Church, through CADECOM we are working together with other likeminded organizations to push for resilience policies to ensure that the people’s right to food is realized amidst the Climate Change issues,” he said.
Msusa then commended government for taking issues of Climate Change and reliance building seriously citing the launch of the Climate Change policy and its implementation, monitoring and evaluation strategy and the National Agricultural Policy as commendable.
The State President, Peter Mutharika declared Malawi,a state of disaster last year as a result of floods. Again, this year, Malawi has experienced severe drought due to El nino.
According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Report on the food security situation for the 2016/2017 consumption period, more than 6.7 million people, about 40 percent of the population, are not able to meet their annual food requirements.
Facilitators of the workshop included, Professor Sosten Chiotha from the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD),Tamani Nkhono-Mvula of Civil Society Agriculture Network and Evans Njewa from the Environmental Affairs Department.