The United Nations Office for Building Disaster Risk Reduction says Zambia could lose US$210 million by the year 2030 if stringent measures are not taken to address climate change.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Sylvia Chalikosa has stressed the need for the international community to help Zambia build capacity to address disasters.

Speaking during the disaster management workshop in Lusaka, Monday, UNISDR regional office for Africa representative Katarina Soltesova said potential loses to crops are estimated to increase from US$16 million at present, to about US$50 million by 2030 due to droughts, whereas hydro-power production is also estimated to be highly affected.

“It is now common to confirm that the frequency and magnitude of disaster events is increasing. Between 2005 and 2015, more than 700 thousand people worldwide have lost their lives due to disasters. This total to over 1.5 billion people. In economic terms, the loses associated with these events globally was more than 1.3 trillion. Let me turn to the number of results from the probabilistic risk profile which we will examine this week. Due to floods and droughts, Zambia loses on average some US$100 million every year. In technical terms, this is an average annual lose. In 2050, a future potentially characterised by climate change and distinct social-economic projections. The highest flood related losses are predicted for the housing sector-accounting for 15 million USD. This followed closely by the service and transportation sectors. Looking at select droughts results under present climate, some 11% of the population are potentially affected,” she said.

“In a future climate, and taking into account consideration socio-economic projections, the number of effected people could reach 20%. This equate to more than 4 million persons per year affected by drought. Potential loses to crops are estimated to increase from 16 million USD at present to about US$50 million due to droughts whereas hydro-power production estimated to be affected by climate change and in the future, it will potentially lose about US$210 million per year. Our focus therefore ought to be on disaster risk proofing of relevant public and private investments, both national and international. Evidence shows that whereas the least developed countries register the highest number of casualties, transitional economies suffer the highest economic losses.”

She said concrete action must be taken now to ensure that the country’s economy is not affected.

“This comes in form of multiple minor, but frequent, as well as major disruptions of infrastructure and services. Cumulatively, this leads to years of efforts and of investment being lost. We must take concrete action now to protect private and public development expenditure from disasters. How do we do that? In much 2015, at the third UN world conference for disaster risk reduction, a new global agreement-the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030 was adopted. The Sendai framework focuses on preventing the creation of new risk and reducing the existing ones. It reaffirms that no government can achieve disaster risk reduction without implementing a holistic and inclusive approach,” said Soltesova.

Meanwhile, Chalikosa stressed the need for the international community to help Zambia build capacity to address disasters.

“We are all united in our common desire to prevent disaster where we can and to reduce disaster losses where we cannot. Tin Sendai Framework emphasises the importance of moving from managing disasters to managing disaster risk if we are to achieve substantial reductions in disaster losses. In this vein, this workshop is critical in that it helps the country to be aware ‘of disaster risk related to floods and droughts among others, be aware of the hotspots and ensure that the information: from the model inform policy for DRR and Climate Change. These initiatives support the view that plans for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction need to complement each other, and so make the best use of available resources at national and local level for disaster risk management,” said Chalikosa.

“The great enabler for reducing disaster losses under the Sendai Framework is target which seeks to have a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. The information from the floods and drought models will aid the entrenching of risk reduction initiatives at the country and local levels. Zambia also recognizes the opportunity there is now to ensure that plans for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation merge to avoid duplication of effort and to maximize the use of resources to reduce loss of life, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure. National and local strategies for reducing disaster risk, including climate risk, will be the bedrock for reducing disaster losses by 2030. Local planning for improved disaster risk management helps create social demand for action at local and national level.”