Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Africa, Researchers, Think Tanks, and Academicians are converging at Bingu International Convention Center (BICC) in Lilongwe Malawi, at an African Regional Symposium on Loss and Damage held under the theme “Consolidating Evidence and Africa Voices for advancing a pan and African loss and Damage Agenda at all levels.”
Theresa Andanga in her opening speech stressed that the effects and impacts of climate change are already very evident and for some developing countries some of the effects that were seen are irreversible, reason why we are gathered for this meeting to discuss loss and damage and of course looking ahead on what we can do to help countries and communities that are already going through the impacts of climate change Loss and Damage refers to the impacts of climate change that goes beyond adaptation and Mitigation, cyclone Freddy is an example.
Dr Micheal Usi, Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change in Malawi called the stakeholders to fashion research that seeks justice, communication effectively, and knowledge management. He laid emphasis on the need for stakeholders to explain the meaning of early warning on natural disasters to the people so they can play their part and reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. He added that Loss and Damage Impacts are no longer far fetch realities in Malawi, citing the recent impacts of cyclone Freddy which hit hard the southern Part of Malawi Mozambique, and Madagascar.
Dr Augustine Njamnshi, Executive Director of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) and Co-chair at Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) was passionate in his remarks during the opening of the Loss and Damage Symposium. He said, “The African continent is burning and flooding at the same time, despite their negligible contribution to the emissions, paying with their lives and health.” He stressed the need for those who caused Climate Change to take responsibility for their actions. “The focus is not who caused the problems, but the relief to the victims. Africa does not need sympathy to be helped but the rich countries must take responsibility for losing lives,” he said.
Conor Kelly, who is Head of Programs at Trocaire in his opening remarks underlined that funding for loss and damage should be grant-based, adequate, transparent, and proper accountability and of course, should be viewed through a gender lens.
WFP in Malawi estimated cyclone Freddy dumped the equivalent of 6 months of rainfall in 6 days, Jupita White, a 39year father lost all his 3 children during the floods and his wife is still hospitalized in critical condition due to severe injuries.
Frank yasini lost both his parents and his nephew during the flood, their conversations revealed how the death of family, friends and community members in terrifying circumstances brings complexities that impact people’s long-term psychological well-being, many people there did not get the opportunity to pay their last respect or bury loved ones swept away by the floods.
Godfrey Saidi hails from T/A Mwambo in Zomba District Malawi. He said 14 people died in his community, houses collapsed, fields of crops were destroyed, and the loss of religious values has traumatized them in their community as they use trees to offer sacrifice to m’bona. He is still struggling from the pain of the loss as he was personally touched by the cyclone Freddy.
Magoil and kathebwe villages used to have annual initiation ceremonies for boys and girls transitioning into puberty, this stopped in 2015 when villagers were hit hard by floods and there was no longer food and accessories to support the ceremonies.
Samanthe Kayole from Kenya whose Massai tribe depends on keeping livestock said that due to drought the animals died. They have suffered a great loss as livestock are their main source of livelihood. Due to this happening, access to education has become a huge problem, especially for girls, who are given into marriage quite early. She called on civil society organizations, and government officials to investigate the situation before they suffer a greater loss. The community equally lost some of their men who ran after the livestock trying to save them.
Dr Simon Anderson gave a presentation on exploring strategies for generating evidence and data to advance a pan-African damage agenda and he thinks actions need to be focused on addressing loss and damage because we are in a position where the urgency is upon all of us. In his presentation, he lays emphasis on the gaps in knowledge and data that we need to feel to be able to address as quickly as possible the increasing losses and damage that are happening. Countries need evidence, knowledge, and data to be able to design national mechanisms to address loss and damage, he identified the mitigation gap, adaptation gap, protection gap and response gap and he concluded his presentation with the following points;
- Most of the knowledge on addressing loss and damage is from what people facing loss and damage are doing themselves autonomously
- National policy frameworks and local-to-national mechanisms will be central to effectively addressing loss and damage, knowledge and data will be needed across all African countries to elaborate loss and damage measures.
- Knowledge and national-level experience in disaster risk management, reconstruction and adaptive social protection provide a good basis for developing effective measures that incorporate loss and damage.
- Knowledge and data for measures to manage internal and cross-border migration, assisted relocation and support to people and households straddling origin and destination locations need to be developed
The day ended with a presentation from participants, question, and answer sessions and the last but not the least presentation was about the zurich flood resilience alliance project which is a multi-sectoral partnership focused on finding practical ways to support communities in developed and developing countries to strengthen their resilience to flood risk by;
- enhancing flood resilience in targeted areas
- Generate new evidence and learning on how to improve community resilience
- Inform and improve governance and funding
Influence improved practice through knowledge production and uptake