Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme says the Green Climate Fund support to Zambia’s agriculture and renewable energy sectors will contribute to accelerating the country’s development.
According to a statement released to the media by Mr Chibaula Silwamba, the Ministry’s Spokesperson, the Minister said the 19th Board meeting of the GCF in February this year approved two projects for Zambia in the agriculture and energy sectors, which are within the priority sectors of the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP).
“The Board approved US 32 million on ‘Strengthening climate resilience of agricultural livelihoods in Agro-Ecological Regions I and II in Zambia’,” Mr. Chiteme. “and, ‘the Zambia Renewable Energy Financing Framework Programme under the African Development Bank (AfDB) is worth US154 million, of which GCF contributed US 52.5million, is a project whose objective is to catalyze private sector investment in renewable energy sector, and accelerate the achievement of our electricity generation targets and the diversification of energy mix.”
The Minister expressed optimism that the Strengthening climate resilience of agricultural livelihoods in Agro-Ecological Regions I and II will help support Zambia’s adaptation efforts.
He said the aim of the project was to increase resilience of small holder farmers against impacts of climate change and variability by providing climate change information on time, to enable farmers plan appropriately.
“The project will support farmers to develop measures to switch to draught resistant crops and reduce their vulnerability due to climate change,” Mr. Chiteme said. “With regard to the agriculture project, the sector is the most vulnerable to climate change and provides livelihood for the most vulnerable people in our country. Despite the sector being a major contributor to food crop production such as corn at over 80% of total country production farmers remain predominantly reliant on rainfed means of producing their crops and any disruption in weather patterns significantly affects their well- being.”
He told the on-going Green Climate Fund (GCF) organised Structured Dialogue with Africa meeting in Bamako, Mali on Tuesday that Zambia settled on the two projects because they are within the priority sectors of the Seventh National Development Plan.
“In Zambia, the dominance of hydropower generation is at 84.5 per cent and this puts the country at risk due to changes in climatic conditions such as global warming leading to insufficient rainfall and drought,” the Minister said. “These challenges pose a risk of inadequate water resources available for hydropower generation and unfortunately, this risk graduated into reality in 2016 as the consequence of insufficient water resources manifested in load-shedding averaging eight (8) hours a day and increased power imports by 178.26 percent.”
Mr. Chiteme said there was need to invest more in renewable energy both on and off-grid to boost production and improve livelihoods.
“Currently, power connectivity in the rural areas is at 4 per cent and this increases poverty levels and affects mainly women and children,” the national development planning Minister said. “Children are at times pulled out of school to attend to household chores such as water and firewood gathering while the multiple burden of women as food producers and homemakers increases.”
The Structured Dialogue with Africa has attracted National Designated Authorities and focal points from all 54 African countries, accredited entities and other stakeholders to share views and experiences of their countries on paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient sustainable development among other objective.