(Xinhua) -- Climate change is altering energy source patterns of
rural dwellers in northern Namibia.
In the far-flung village in Namibia’s
Oshana region, Helena Shilongo, 37, has just returned from a thwarting
search for dried cow-dung, used as an energy source to cook.
In the scorching sun, she, however,
could only fill her traditional woven basket half-way with dried cow-dung.
“This is becoming an everyday
occurrence,” she said on Friday.
Due to harsh climate change and
variability, Shilongo now walks extra miles and collects only a handful of
cow-dung in the dry area.
With very few trees in sight, access
to firewood within her vicinity is an ‘ancient trend,’ lamented Shilongo.
“The cattle perished over the years
due to a variable climate. Thus, less manure available nearby. Nowadays,
cattle also graze very far from our home due to a lack of pasture. Hence we
walk a long distance in search of the cow-dung,” she added.
As a result, she must walk a long
distance to ensure she sources cow-dung for fire.
Shilongo’s plight is similar to that
of dwellers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region
facing shortages of energy source supplies.
Records show that above 50 percent of
the population in the SADC region remain without access to electricity and
efficient energy sources.
An environmental expert opines that
alterations to energy patterns over the years and access thereof are
attributed to climate change and variability.
Walter Tubua, an associate program
officer at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, said that it is
estimated that by 2030, floods in the region will increase by an additional
two days and drought with 15 more days.
According to Tubua, since the adoption
of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, temperatures in the SADC
region has gone up by two degrees Celsius.
He added that nearly 44 African
countries who are signatories to the Paris Agreement are affected by an
increase over extreme weather patterns.
Namibia is no exception, as the
country’s temperatures have gone up with 1.3 degrees Celsius, said Tubua.
“This will have a great impact on the
SADC’s economy given the importance of agriculture to the economy. Majority
of people in the region are employed in the agricultural sector,” he added.
The region’s population is largely
dependent on land, agriculture, and environment for daily subsistence and
water. National statistics show that nearly 70 percent of Namibians depends
on agriculture for sustenance.
Tubua thus warned that there is a
chance that Namibia’s gross domestic product per capita, which the World
Bank placed at 5,227 U.S. dollars in 2017 is vulnerable.
“As temperatures go up, Namibia will
be affected because it is not very resilient,” he said.
From where she is, Shilongo said that
she already bears the brunt of changing weather patterns.
“Consequently, from walking such long
distances, I am less productive on my farm, and economically due to time
constraints related to energy sourcing,” she said.
She is not alone. Karina Festus from
Oshikoto region in northern Namibia said that the effects of climate change,
too, has altered the economics and social relations in her household.
“I work double-shifts, it drains me
and impacts my overall productivity, one then also loses prestige, and it
further affects power relations across gender. It is difficult,” said
Consultant and gender expert Edwidge
Mutale said that climate change and variability, therefore, affects women on
the continent; due to various factors such as culture, patriarchy, and
According to Mutale, in many African
cultures, women are seen as responsible for the upkeep of households, and
thus climate change impacts their productivity and increases their
vulnerability to other factors including economic and psychological.
“Household economics also perpetuate
and or has been identified as one of the contributing factors to
gender-based violence,” said Mutale.
Meanwhile, to mitigate the impact of
climate change, there has been a drive for robust investment by governments
in these sectors, which are some of their primary areas of focus, according