The effects of climate change are being felt across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, and science and technology can play a key role in adaptation to, mitigation of, and the overcoming of these effects, speakers said during the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (Sasscal) climate science exhibition, held on December 3.
Sasscal executive director Dr Jane Olwoch said that, despite efforts to curb the effects of climate change, the region had felt many of its effects such as droughts and reduction in water resources.
She noted that, given there are shared resources, ecosystems and cross border risks, collaborative effort was needed by all countries, to deal with climate change.
In terms of technology and collaboration already being leveraged, Olwoch highlighted the Innovative Technologies to Improve Climate Resilience in the Zambian Agricultural Sector project, which was part of the German Bilateral Cooperation Programme funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The project is being implemented by Sasscal as the coordinating partner, in collaboration with several other organisations.
This project aims to build the capacity of emergent farmers in the use of novel and innovative technologies to improve crop productivity and farm management in the face of climate change.
Olwoch also mentioned the Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment (WeMAST) project, a partnership between the African Union and the European Union which aimed to design and develop an integrated platform for wetland assessment and monitoring that would support better management of selected transboundary river basins.
The platform to be developed will integrate existing data products and tools to implement a sustainable wetland management system, by drawing on the experience from the Sasscal-led consortium, partners and other key stakeholders across regional, national and local institutions.
Looking ahead, Olwoch mentioned that Sasscal was undertaking a graduate studies programme in integrated water resource management. This, she said, would provide a centre of excellence for students in the region for solutions regarding water, which was especially important given its scarcity in these countries.
When making intervention using technology, countries must first identify the appropriate technology that can address the problem at hand, Botswana Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Minister Balisi Gopolang said.
He emphasised that technology that is applicable to one region may not necessarily be correct for another countries, owing to the different geographies and dynamics.
Moreover, he said there needed to be an assessment of the cost of technology and its installation.
He explained that technology in the developed world usually resided in the private sector, therefore, it could come at quite a high cost for developed countries.
He also noted that the technology must be applicable to the sector in question, for example, technology suited for water conservation would not necessarily be appropriate for use in the energy sector.