Sunday, 25 November 2012

SILENCE IN THE FACE OF INJUSTICE IS EQUIVALENT TO THE APPROVAL OF INJUSTICE


I want to speak of ''Zambians'' in the plural! Zambia is a big country comprising of about 13.5million people living in over 73 Districts with 68% population being the youth. As can be observed from our education programmes, we speak of Zambia as a country of great potentials and at the same time great problems. But I seriously believe that the potentials outweigh the problems. The task then, is to get those potentials applied to those problems. We call that equitable, integral and sustainable development.

Understandably, I look at Zambia through the lens of that part of the Continent that I know best, where I was born and have lived for over 20 years. Some of you may know Zambia very well or just learning to know it. And you may know that it is one of the richest countries in Africa in terms of resources: land, water, agriculture, minerals, tourist sites and peace. Zambia has experienced Peace for the last 46 years of Independence with 73 tribes living together without ethnic conflict. We are the envy of our neighbours. Southern African neighbours like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where over four million have died in the past decade in conflicts that are local but largely are international and Zimbabwe where a previously rich economy has suffered a melt-down. Zambia is such a rich country, but with some of the poorest people in the world. 

For Zambia, I want to suggest that justice is important if we are to attain that equitable, integral and sustainable development. From my Zambian experience as a young person, Justice requires that people are put first in any definition of development. It Calls for new models of the economy, for new roles of government in the economy and for new priorities in the economy. Justice in Zambia requires much greater attention paid to Eco-Justice (Environmental, Ecological, Social, Economic, Water, and Climate) and the protection of the integrity of creation. This is a topic that really needs little elaboration since we all have become more accustomed to the demand for a respect for our common home and earth. But this respect has different implications in different contexts.

I want to highlight here the justice implication of managing a trade-off between attracting investments and safeguarding the environment. Zambia’s turn-around in the economy is much dependent on the expansion of our copper mines. As in many other parts of Africa, major new investment partners come from China. And Chinese investors have not always been keenly sensitive to environmental impact studies and demands. The question is; should the Zambian government enforce strict requirements regarding opening of new pits, disposal of wastes, pollution of air and water? Or should the need for employment generation activities, with subsequent rising standards of living, take precedence over environmental concerns, concerns often viewed by investors as abstract, ideological or irrelevant? Looking at these questions, you will discover that, humanity’s destruction of the earth with impunity through production, distribution and over consumption and secondly the process by which those who are richer and stronger destroy the earth, results in impoverishing the poor, making them even more vulnerable and resulting in social injustice.

Many communities in Zambia, lack access to regular piped, purified water and often depend on rivers and other natural water sources for their household and agricultural needs.  However, the mining production process pose a threat to these water sources, as the process of separating out copper ore leaves behind an acidic liquid which contains small particles of unused rock (silt or sediment). This can cause problems for local communities, if allowed to build up over time. In regards to this, Human rights are not negotiable and as such their protection and promotion should not be optional.  The Zambian government clearly has an important role to play. It has a duty to safeguard the human rights of its population through the effective use of public funds generated from mining companies and other sources by ensuring effective corporate regulation. However, in the past media reports(print, electronic etc) cites a variety of evidence which suggests that the Zambian government does not always have the ability to ensure effective regulation, as it can face challenges in designing and implementing national legislation.
It is not only water pollution that can cause problems for local communities, but also air pollution specifically sulphur dioxide, a side effect of the copper-smelting process. High sulphur dioxide levels can cause breathing difficulties and chronic respiratory illness. They can also reduce lung functions and worsen cardiovascular disease. When mixed with water, sulphur dioxide can produce acid rain, changing the soil chemistry and reducing the photosynthesis process in plants. This in turn causes problems for the local farming communities both in terms of growing food and securing a livelihood.
The Zambia case is of course replicated in so many other parts of Africa today, where the extractive industries are increasingly influential. Our neighbours to the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo, face even greater challenges along this line. My own sense is that justice in Zambia demands a commitment to a long-term sustainability that is impossible with short term environmental damage. Justice in Zambia demands a radical approach to the challenge of Eco-Justice. Eco-Injustice is truly an issue of integral development and justice, which requires a radical approach and response by every individual. This requires full 'ATTENSION' to issues of Economy, Ecology, Environment, Social, Water and Climate. Let me emphasise that Eco-Justice is not a Zambian Challenge, not primarily an African concern. But it is a serious challenge to the future development of the Continent’.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

RISKS AND BENEFITS FOR WOMEN IN THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES IN ZAMBIA


The development effectiveness and sustainability of extractive industries in Zambia could increase significantly by taking into account how gender bias issues affect the sector and how extractive industries activities can benefit men and women more equally. 


The benefits and risks of extractive industries (EI) are often measured broadly at the community level, but fail to distinguish the different impacts on men and women. Evidence suggests that a gender bias exists in the distribution of risks and benefits in extractive industries; benefits accrue to men in the form of employment and compensation while the costs such as family/social disruption and environmental degradation, fall most heavily on women.

Risks for women in the EI’s include;
  • Employment: EI can lead to jobs both directly, such as in the oil, gas, and mining operations. In the mines themselves, jobs go primarily to men. Women more often have access to informal and spin-off jobs which are often less secure, more poorly paid and more dangerous.
  • Pollutions: EI activities can lead to pollution of land, water, and air. Which can lead to some compensatory measures giving women improved access to clean water, for instance. But in other cases; pollution causes illness, costs women and girls particularly in the time it takes them to collect water, firewood, food, etc. that may be impacted by pollution.
  • Resources and Women Participation: EI often leads to significant money being spent at the community level. Women are often left out of the community consultation process and have little say in how the community resources are spent.
  • Resources and Violence: Rising access to cash from EI jobs and an influx in male workers often leads to increases in alcoholism, drug abuse and prostitution. These factors often lead to a rise in domestic disputes, violence against women, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs. The in migration of workers often leads to a rise in violence and crime.
  • Loss of sacred places (Displacements): As land becomes converted for EI and the related infrastructure and housing; sacred places and places of cultural significance are often lost contributing to strain on culture and traditions.

Recommendations
Including women’s perspectives is good for development and good for the nation. This should include community consultations in consideration of investments and programming for a sustainable development.
  • Employment of women brings community gains: There should be an increase in women having access to EI’s employment or be empowered in regarding household finances.  Evidence has shown that women are more likely to invest in education, health and nutrition for their families. Where women have decreased access to employment and cash, families suffer.
  • Consultation of women in spending leads to more sustainable investment: There is need for increase in women being involved in community consultations to decide priorities for investment of EI resources. This will led to outcomes being more sustainable development impacts.
  •  Women can make better employees: Increasing job opportunities to women can lead to high productivity and reduce costs. Women are often more reliable and follow rules, obey health and safety regulations and can be more reliable employees. Women make-up half of the productive labour-force, hence discrimination against women in the labour market is an impediment to private sector development and economic growth.
  • Gender responsiveness can improve management efficiency: A proactive gender equity approach can free up management time for core business activities rather than responding to investor concerns or conflict resolution within the community.
  • Gender equity can reduce community disruption or protest: employing women and incorporating women into consultations can create a more predictable business environment with fewer production disruptions, thus avoiding cost increases and loss of income.
  • Women’s economic empowerment can be good for community development: Women have a better track record of starting successful business and repaying micro-credit loans, and show a greater willingness to respect safety and environmental safeguards.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY AND YOUTH POLITICS AT A GLANCE - CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL (UNFCCC EVENTS)

The debates and discussions on climate change have for a long time been making media headlines across the world. Different political and non-political actors have and still engage in climate change negotiations at different consultative levels and topical scope while topics such as climate change prevention, mitigation or adaptation are becoming overwhelming and common agendas. Consequently, in order to systematically, globally and collectively address the emerging climate change problem, the United Nations (UN) initiated and has been annually organising the Conference of Parties (COP). In this case, parties imply the member states of the UN. After the endorsement of the General Assembly Session (UNGAS) to create the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) between 1990 and 1994, the first COP was held in 1995 in Berlin, Germany herein referred to as the COP 1 Berlin.   
While Zambia has been one of the active parties since inception, it is imperative to mention that this important world conference on climate change is held on a rotation basis in relation to country and continent. For example, COP2 was in Geneva, Geneva declaration 1996; COP3 Kyoto, Kyoto protocol 1997; COP4 Plan action Argentina 1998; COP5 finalising the Kyoto protocol, Bonn Germany 1999; COP6 Kyoto Protocol Operation Rulebook Hague, Netherlands 2000; COP7 Marrakech Accords, Morocco in 2001; COP8  New Delhi Work Program- New Delhi India in 2002; COP9 Adaptation Fund Milan- Italy in 2003; COP10 Post-Kyoto Mechanisms- Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004; COP11 Montreal Action Plan- Montreal Canada; COP12 Nairobi Conference- Nairobi 2006; COP13 Bali action- Bali, Indonesia 2007; COP14 Poznan Climate Change Conference- Poznan, Poland 2008; COP15 Copenhagen Accord Denmark-2009; COP16 Cancun Agreements, Cancun Mexico 2010; and COP17 Durban Platform – Durban South Africa.  
As per UN recommendation or standard, there is need for each country to send a balanced representation ranging from government, civil society, youth, women and faith based in all these climate change negotiations. This means that as government parties prepare for the COP18 (18th Conference of Parties) which will take place from 23rd November – 9th December, 2012 the development of country position papers should be in partnership with various stakeholders that includes civil societies, youth, woman and faith based as earlier noted. In the case of Zambia just like many other developing countries, the participation and input of the youth in the climate change COPs remain a vital and unquestionable issue as they constitute more than 60% of the total population or stakeholder threshold.  
But what are the critical challenges and technical problems that hinders and discourage the Zambian youth from actively participating in the UNFCCC negotiations? Before, during and after the preparation and implementation processes of in country activities based on COP resolutions, Zambian youth face what one would call manageable and avoidable challenges which hinder information sharing with the general public and development as articulated below:
1-      Youth stakeholder perception and resistance –Youths face social and professional resistance and rejection by various sectors of society. This result in perceiving and treating youths as ordinary social tools and not viewed as partners in the development process. This has equally affected the relationship between the Zambian government and the youth in relation to COPs.
2-      Sponsorship – The COP is a high level negotiating forum which means that youth should be rationally encouraged to participate in order to allow them learns the skills of professional engagement and negotiation for today and the future. However, since the inception of the COP meetings, Zambia government has never sponsored more than 2 youths.
3-      Accreditation – To participate in the COP, youths need to be accredited by the Zambian government in order to represent Zambia. However, the youths cannot easily access this accreditation here. This forces the Zambian youths to look for other international accrediting institutions. This means one ends up representing the accrediting institution as opposed to his or her country.
4-      Marginalization – In many cases, the Zambian youths are marginalized at various levels. Especially their participation at policy levels, most youths are just invited to meet the numbers and for report purposes.
Recommendation
1-      Government should consider youths of today as partners and future negotiators by increasing the sponsorship in UNFCCC from the current 2 to more than 10. For example, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa or Malawi sends more than 20 youths. The current trend should be treated as a call of worry for it is evident that the future for Zambia’s negotiators is fading.  
2-      During the preparatory meetings, the government should do a comprehensive process which should include; selection of youth and civil society participants, accreditation, and sponsorship.
3-      The government should only give one recommendation from the permanent secretary to youths and civil society for resource mobilization based on the list compiled during the preparatory meetings.