Opinion By Victoria Tuwilika Shifidi
THE one-sided global debate on climate change has indirectly crippled critical thinking and service delivery across many sectors.
In 2006, a former UK secretary of state compared climate change sceptics to terrorists, who should be censored. Several others have labelled climate change sceptics as a threat to humanity, who should be tried before the courts.
Calls to dominate discussions with climate change advocates as opposed to sceptics have been made. The culture of not critically questioning climate change has been promoted. As a result, the wider public has been conditioned to create a huge backlash at sceptics.
While taking cognisance of the pressure exerted on water resources by climate change, our current water crisis seems to emanate more from poor management. Climate change has overshadowed the real cause of the water crisis, such as social demographics, land use, governance, lack of proactiveness, ignorance, as well as lack of community participation.
Climate change excuses in cases where situations could have been prevented have become unquestionable reasons for a lack of service delivery, and communities are fed only with this one-sided and biased notion, which they accept with no qualms.
We have seemingly taken advantage of the climate change concept in our attempt to condition the audience and steer the current water crisis discussion around physical water scarcity, as opposed to economic water scarcity. As much as Namibia is a dry country – its major rivers are shared, and rainfall highly unpredictable – we have always known these facts, and they should no longer be the departure point for discussion.
Hydrological data reveals that dry years worse than the current ones were recorded before, and current droughts seem to be a result of normal climate patterns. We, however, seem to manage our water resources in the same manner we did when our population was barely a million.
Generally, we should have known water deficits will worsen with pressure exerted by the wet industry too. But nonetheless, we did less than necessary to avert the well-foreseen crisis. We have subconsciously slipped into an era of absolute complacency, an era in which climate change gets the blame for anything we fail to manage. The overall goal should be to deliver services in the first place, even in the absence of climate change.
There have been insufficient active and open platforms of engagement, while waiting on the drought, to call for urgent meetings, whose momentum lapse when it starts raining well again.
We should also ask ourselves the following questions: Are we negotiating fair allocations at the negotiating table with other co-riparian states? The Namibia Statistics Agency collects data on social demographics but how often, if at all, do we engage with such data and information to adjust our planning accordingly?