Natural Phenomena and Youth Conflicts: The Influence of Climate Change

Natural Phenomena and Youth Conflicts: The Influence of Climate Change

Obediah Dodo (Bindura University, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9627-1.ch011
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The study conducted exploratively from an analytical desk review perspective sought to establish climate change-induced conflicts on the youths in Zimbabwe and how they may be addressed. This is against a background where most studies around climate change often fail to focus on its effects on the youth and how it drives the latter to engage in conflicts. Data was drawn from both archival material and policy documents. The study was guided by a concept of human security, which looks at climate change as a threat to the youth, resulting in conflicts. The study established what it calls climate conflicts. It also noted that climate change does not lead to conflicts. Rather it is the result of climate change complimented by other factors that the risk of climate-induced conflicts by youths may arise. It also concluded that all the climate change effects cascade to youths' opportunities for jobs and development.
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Zimbabwe is situated in central southern Africa. Most of its land area is on a plateau between 1200m and 1600m above sea level, giving it a moderately calm subtropical climate with seasonal rainfall (GoZ, 2014). Almost 20% of Zimbabwe’s land area lies below 900m. Its climate is seriously influenced by the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone which drives the rainfall pattern (Brazier, 2015). It is landlocked, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Mozambique to the east, Botswana to the southwest and South Africa to the south.

Zimbabwe’s economic performance fell drastically between year 2000 and 2008 and 2013 and 2017 due to economic maladministration, poor governance and the withdrawal of international support (AfDB, 2011). Resultantly, poverty increased noticeably leading to an enlarged reliance on natural resource utilization despite the growing effects of climate change. It is widely recognised that Zimbabwe is one of the most susceptible countries in Africa because of its prevalent poverty, poor governance systems and limited coping capacity (Madzwamuse, 2010). Other equally prone southern African states include Namibia, South Africa and Botswana. The economy and most youths in Zimbabwe are susceptible to climate change owing to their profound dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Apparently, agriculture accounts for roughly 15-18% of Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and nearly 60% of the raw materials needed by the manufacturing sector and 40% of total export earnings (GoZ, 2010; Zimstats, 2015).

Climate records show that Zimbabwe is already experiencing the effects of climate change, especially variations in rainfall. This situation, combined with warming trends, is expected to make land more and more insignificant for agriculture, posing a serious risk to the economy and the livelihoods of the youths owing to Zimbabwe’s deep reliance on agriculture and climate sensitive resources (GoZ, 2014). Youths, who represent about 62% of the total population (Dodo & Dodo, 2018), stomach disproportionate impacts owing to their partial adaptive competence. Resultantly, climate change presents a serious threat to sustainable development of youths at the micro and macro levels in Zimbabwe. Besides, the escalating occurrence and strength of severe weather conditions is destroying infrastructure. Also, the growing geographic range of infectious disease vectors is affecting community health, especially among the youth. It is as a result of these climatic shifts that the youth constituency in Zimbabwe is exposed to conflicts which have not been adequately covered or anticipated.

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