Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rains Have Come

Victoris Falls today, left, during the lowest time of the year.  Right, the same spot in June, 2011.  Seasonal variability in climate is normal, but if climate change affects this region in the future, the annual flood may not come. By managing this waterway across the countries' borders, millions of people who rely on the Zambezi River for their livelihood may look forward to a more certain future.
We have been traveling up from the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).    This huge park, bigger than Italy, was signed into existence by the heads of five countries in August this year.  It will create a cross-border water management system that will help these countries develop their water resources sustainably, and help them adapt to inconsistent weather and climate change.  The rest of the world can learn from this type of cooperation and this segment of the documentary I am producing as part of this Open Society Fellowship looks at this grand project from the local community level to the project designers, and shows how it may not only help address climate change, but uplift communities and “creates a climate for change”, the theme behind this project. 

Today we are in Lusaka, Zambia, on our way to a small town in the northwest called Mpika.  It is drizzling outside the thatch roof, a change in the weather of the last two weeks which saw us struggling through 47 degree centigrade temperatures day after day.  With the thunder and lightning of last night it seems that at least on the central plateau of Zambia the rainy season has come again to southern Africa.  We have been following this seasonal variability closely, since the region is essentially in a drought for half the year and enjoys rainfall the rest of the time.  A big fear here is that with climate change, the rainy season may not come every year like it does now.  Already it’s much more sporadically timed than it was during the 20th century, and this puts rural farmers at great risk of hunger. 

So now we are on our way to Mpika to meet with Hammer Simwinga, a Goldman Prize winner who has help roll out a sustainable farming system around North Luangwa National Park that has changed the lives of thousands of farmers by diversifying their crops away from monoculture maize production and educating them to become custodians of their environment.  They have greater food security, and are much less prone to climate change events.  When Simwinga won the Goldman prize, I went up with writer Mike Wines to take pictures of him for the New York Times.  I was encouraged  by his low-key approach to development that works and is good for the environment.

We will be staying in the forest and living with a farming community who works with Simwinga’s project.  We will be in touch on our  satellite and upload a few updates from the road.

November 3, 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment