Tapiwa Makosa recently in Johannesburg, South Africa

Scientists and other experts have warned that Climate Change could be the biggest threat to humanity and is projected to have more devastating effects than the global HIV and AIDS pandemic.
This emerged from a two day conference in South Africa which was organized by UNWOMEN and the Southern Africa Journalists Association, SAJA.

“Climate Change could be the worst thing that has ever happened  to us or it could be a very good chance for creating a better future,” said Anna  Brazier a Zimbabwean Ecologist and Sustainable Development consultant.

She implored governments, communities and industry  to embrace the reality and face the Climate Change  challenge, as it is was the only way to find lasting solutions

“Let us face this problem and let us start planning ahead,” she said.
 “If we embrace this opportunity instead of running away from it, it’s our chance to follow the sustainable path of development instead of going through the destructive road which the West took.”

She said between the twin challenges of Climate Change and HIV/AIDS, one was a disease while the other was “a human construct with a little bit of aid from nature”.
Professor Bob Scholes of the University of Witwatersrand warned that the effects of Climate Change were not discriminatory as everybody on earth was feeling its negative effects.
“Africa has contributed about 1% to  global warming, but it is one of the most  severely affected continents.

“Africans cannot afford the blame game with the big guys of the world, simply  because they did not contribute to the problem.  Whether we like  it or not, we are at risk”, he said.
In Zimbabwe alone, 4.1 million people are estimated to need food aid due to the  El Nino induced drought that has affected  the country’s food security.
In comparison,  1.4 million people are  living with HIV in Zimbabwe, according to UNAIDS.

The opposite of El Nino  is called La Nina and  causes flooding.
It  is a great threat given that most rural communities are situated in low lying areas with poor soils, and are prone to flooding.

World temperatures are expected to go up by  an average of at least 2 degrees of the current temperatures.

If temperatures rise  by more than 2 degrees, planet Earth will become almost inhabitable, according to experts.

“If we reach temperatures of about 7 – 8 degrees Celcius in Southern Africa, then that is simply not survivable”, warned Scholes.

Like  HIV /AIDS which created  hundreds of thousands of child or elderly  headed families, Climate Change threatens to affect  vulnerable groups of people.

Women, girls  and children are the most  affected  because they are the primary producers of food especially in rural areas. The shortages of water, means long journeys to the source and back.
Women rural small scale farmers attending conferences organized by UNWOMEN and SAJA have highlighted the hardships that Climate Change has brought in communities.
They have pointed out that with resources getting fewer and fewer because of Climate Change, their access to land and water had become limited.