WINDHOEK – With recent climatic disaster experienced in the Southern African region, Namibia says it is high time to call for the full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, and for all state parties to honour their commitments particularly to small states that are at the receiving end of climate calamities.
This call was made by international relations Executive Director Selma Ashipala-Musavyi during the 9th session of the Namibia-Zimbabwe Joint Commission Cooperation yesterday. Member states of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) are vulnerable to a range of natural disasters and, since many events affect several countries simultaneously. “Climate change is real. Our region has recently been hit by climate disasters, the worst we have seen in our lifetime. Most member states have declared national disaster emergencies due to devastating floods and drought. In this regard, we extend our solidarity towards the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. As you may recall, President Hage Geingob, in his capacity as Sadc chairperson launched a Regional Appeal in aid of the Victims of Cyclone Ida and Kenneth,” she said.
This year alone, Tropical Cyclone Idai, developed on March 5 initially as a tropical depression near Maganja da Costa in Zambezia Province in Mozambique. It moved up to Niassa Province within Mozambique and turned towards southern Malawi on March 6, where it resulted in heavy flooding. The tropical depression returned to the Mozambican Chanel, where it gained momentum and became a tropical cyclone. It curved back to Mozambique coastline and made landfall near Beira City. Classified as the worst cyclone to hit the Sadc region in recent history, Idai further, propagated westwards up to Eastern Zimbabwe on subsequent days, with highly destructive impacts.
The disaster left about 839 lives been lost in the three affected countries, 2,347 people have been injured and nearly three million people affected. Therefore, Ashipala-Musavyi said more needs to be done in strengthening Sadc regional capacity for disaster preparedness and response. In this regard, Namibia welcomes the decisions taken on Friday at the Ministerial Committee of the Organ of Sadc, held in Lusaka, Zambia. At the meeting, the Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax highlighted that in response to the devastating impacts of cyclones, measures to operationalize the Sadc Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism are on ongoing, and that the Secretariat is mapping the entire disaster management value chain, with a view to putting in place a comprehensive and well-coordinated response mechanism.
In this regard, she called upon Sadc member states and partners to support the operationalisation of the Sadc Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism. The meeting expressed gratitude to Geingob for launching the Regional Humanitarian Appeal, and noted that, through the Regional Humanitarian Appeal, combined with the National Humanitarian Appeals, an amount of U$204 million (about N$2.84 billion) has been raised for the affected Sadc countries and communities. The meeting commended the quick response and efforts made by the member states affected by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, to save lives and properties of their people and the solidarity rendered by the Sadc community following the effects of the floods and cyclones; and applauded the member states and international partners for availing resources towards the relief efforts for tropical cyclones. The meeting further approved the immediate activation of the Sadc Standby Force Component for humanitarian assistance.
Tax said more needs to be done to fully exploit the trade and investment potential offered by Namibian and Zimbabwean economies. “In this regard, a more conducive environment could be created once we have agreed on the terms of reference for the operationalisation of the Joint Trade and Economic Committee and have concluded the MoU on Small and Medium Size Enterprises Cooperation. These are just some of the instruments to be finalized during our deliberations,” she noted.
Furthermore, she said the meeting is expected to finalise legal instruments, which speak to the creation of a conducive and an enabling institutional environment for our business people. These include reviewed MoU on Cooperation in the field of Information, Media and Broadcasting; revised MoU on Science, Technology and Innovation; MoU on Fisheries and Fresh Water Aquaculture Conservation; and Twinning Agreement between the Kavango East Region of Namibia and Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe. “Therefore, this session provides us with yet another ample opportunity to review the implementation of our bilateral projects and programmes and thereby further enhancing our bilateral cooperation,” she said.