According to UNDP human development report 2007/8, we are witnessing what could be the onset of major human development reversals in our lifetime.
This is the challenge posed by climate change; it will curtail the attainment of Millennium Development Goals, stall development and reverse progress built over generations.
It is a global human tragedy in the making which requires urgent attention otherwise programmes aimed at reducing extreme poverty, improving health, nutrition, education etc will be severely affected.
The threshold for dangerous climate change, the report adds, will be an increase of around 20 C; a point at which rapid reversals in human development and a drift towards irreversible ecological damage would become very difficult to avoid.
Failing to act now consigns the 40 per cent of the world’s poor
population (2.6 billion people) to a future of diminished opportunity.
Doing nothing to mitigate climate change is a systematic violation of
human rights of the world’s poor and future generations.
Rich countries that have pumped billions of tons of carbon dioxide -- the main green house gas --into the atmosphere are responsible for the problem, while the two constituencies of the poor and future generation are very vulnerable. On the other hand, high level of poverty and low levels of human development limit the capacity of poor households to manage climate risks.
Climate change will affect all the bio-productive systems on which investments in Africa are based. It will enhance vulnerability of our population because of dependence on primary production and rain-fed agriculture, weak institutional, and infrastructure capacity, prevalence of HIV/Aids, after effects of conflict in northern part of the country as well as limited financial resources that make Uganda’s adaptive capacity very low.
It is interesting to note that even with this highly vulnerable state, we are doing practically nothing to adapt to climate change. It is likely that our five-year National Development Plan does not have adaptation responses to climate change integrated in all the relevant sectoral development plans.
How adequately equipped --financially, technically and materially --is our department of meteorology to collect and analyse data and disseminate it to Ugandans as an important ingredient of disaster preparedness?
Uganda’s weak position becomes clearly evident if you consider how ill prepared we were when large parts of northern Uganda experienced floods in the recent past. As climate change intensifies we expect upsurge of floods and severe droughts in the cattle corridor, crop failure, forest fires, infrastructure breakdown, intensified rural urban migration and upsurge of water borne diseases.
World over, climate change is given adequate attention, especially in the rich nations where vulnerability is very low. To them, adaption involves erecting elaborate flood and extreme weather defense infrastructure, building homes that can float and adjusting their thermostats. Others are teaching their nationals how to swim as a life saving strategy in case of a floods.
The National Planning Authority urgently needs to prioritise and integrate climate change adaptation in the National Development Plan at the earliest opportunity and integrate climate change mitigation in their plans. Some reasonable technical capacity exists in some districts. What is lacking is the financial firstname.lastname@example.org
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