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Lillian Banda – WNN Breaking

Zambian women farmers look at the soil outside the capital city of Lusaka, September 2011

Zambian women farmers look at a field for soil quality outside the capital city of Lusaka, September 2011. Image: Jacqui Wintle

(WNN) Durban, SOUTH AFRICA: A Zambian non-governmental organization Save Environment and People Agency (SEPA) says efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change risk being doomed unless women are engaged fully.

SEPA Director Ms. Mailes Muke asserts that making resources such as the global Green Climate Fund accessible to women is a sure way of countering climate change and its effects. She also called on all parties present at the resent Durban conference to “facilitate the engagement of women in all process of reversing and mitigating climate change.”

“Its an established fact that women hold the bulk of our economies. They run small-scale business and they are also major contributors to the food basket, particularly in developing countries as the majority of them are farmers,” said Ms. Muke as she addressed Zambian journalists during the COP17 conference that was held in Durban, South Africa.

Battling an ongoing need for adequate global food supplies, Zambia’s food security issues have been affected most by regions of drought and floods inside the region. Much of the impacts have affected the women farmers who are members of the ZWA – Zambia Women in Agriculture who are working to establish a stronger programs to help women transport and market food.

“Currently women all over the world are on the frontline of coping with and adapting to the effects of climate change,” added Muke. “As civil society in Zambia we have noted with dismay that women have and continue to be sidelined when it comes to financing of climate mitigations measures despite being the major drivers of our economies.”

With sharp increases in the price of food, over 2.3 million people in Zambia are currently in critical need of food aid.

A focus that encouraged farmers to grow maize (corn) was part of organized efforts by the Zambian government to purchase maize for school food programs following the 2001-2002 droughts. However, climate instability has contributed to widespread failure of many maize fields, especially as some versions of the plant are vulnerable to drought. Other food crops in the region include sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, soy beans and cassava.

A Zambian government initiative to help those who are suffering from malnutrition, called PAM – Programme Against Malnutrition, has currently organized a seed distribution program targeted to help poor women farmers put more resources toward growing new crops.

“Women must have access to resources such as the Green Climate Fund otherwise efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change will remain a pipedream if not a nightmare,” says Muke. Under funding with many climate change projects run by women “is an impediment to the realization of both national and international development goals,” she added.

Crop failure due to climate conditions throughout the eastern region of Africa and in Zambia has been affecting the population for the last ten years. Women farmers do hope that their crop yields will improve though. But assistance is vital to success for many of the Zambian women who’s livelihoods depend on agricultural industries.

The establishment of the Green Climate Fund was launced during the 2010 COP meeting in Cancun, Mexico. It aims to provide about 100 billion (USD) to developing countries by 2020 to help them cope with carbon emission impacts on climate change.

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WNN correspondent in Zambia, Lillian Banda, has worked for Sun Publishers, Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) and the International Justice Mission (IJM). She has also been a volunteer for Amnesty International Zambia and has volunteered as a Paralegal officer for Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA). As a journalist she has worked through the Media Network on Environment and Agriculture Development (MEAD), Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA) and Media Network on Child’s Rights and Development (MNCD).

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