Many parts of Africa are facing severe drought because of climate change. This is not the first time that we have faced this catastrophic natural disaster.
Many will recall the 1980s famine in the Horn of Africa, which claimed hundreds of lives. The horror pictures of death of citizens of countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia did not hit home until an award winning picture of a Mail & Guardian (now Weekly Mail) photographer, Kevin Carter of a vulture hovering above a malnutritioned dying Sudanese child. The photographer, though he later committed suicide following the barrage of criticism, showed the world, through the lens, the real picture of drought and famine in war zones.
We could as well be back there, as still in the Horn of Africa and most parts of southern Africa, millions of people are facing hunger and water shortages because of the drought. This is what Botswana is faced with today, no rains and extreme heat which is threatening to leave a trail of disaster.
Livestock and wild animals are starting to fall and die from poor grazing and water shortage.
Africa, a continent prone to civil wars and corruption that has led to a struggling to feed its own, the worst of natural disaster could spell doom.
But we can do something about our situation and stop looking for handouts from the West.
We have over the years managed to train scientists, engineers, climatologists, doctors and others to better our lives and even help where natural disasters threaten us. Everyday, people are researching to find better ways to improve their lives when faced with a hostile nature.
Africa should embrace research institutions to complement learning institutions such as universities. The African Union, and regional blocks such as Southern African Development Community, Economic Community of West Africa, the Maghrib, and East African Economic Block should build more research institutions that will focus on studying the continent’s climate patterns and find solutions to the problems. These institutions should also research on possible ways to make rain, such as cloud seeding as suggested by climatologists.
We cannot sit back and hope that things will change for better when we are not playing our part.
Our country in particular, should engage experts from other countries where the aforementioned idea is practised. We are aware that there are countries that have adopted these methods, and they have normal rains, grazing land, and produce food for themselves.
It is time to embrace new technologies to fight this drought. It starts with curiosity and willingness to try new things. They may not work for us today, tomorrow, next week or next year, but with constant research and practice, we might one day get there.
Let us remember that man is the only animal on planet earth, that has come up with inventions to make its live more comfortable. A re ipelegeng MaAforika.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”