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Stop the Beifa Coal Project, Says Dinde Community in Hwange, Zimbabwe

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Photo: By Yaroslav Maltsev on Unsplash

Civil society in the SADC region, East Africa, West Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America join hands in calling on the government of Zimbabwe to drop the case and all charges against the Vice Chair of Dinde Residents Association, Never Tshuma.

Tshuma was arrested on allegations of inciting the community against a proposed coal project in Dinde. The case was taken to court on May 17, 2021.

“We are further concerned with remarks attributed to the Minister of State for Matabeleland North Affairs Mr. Richard Moyo who threatened that his government will not tolerate any resistance to the project by the community, arguing that protesters will be arrested,” they decried. Noting that  the Dinde Community in Hwange District of Zimbabwe  are resisting  a Chinese company, Beifa Investments, which has started exploration work for coal. 

In a statement, the civil society demands that the Government reflects and considers the plight of the community of Dinde in Hwange, Matabeleland North Province that is facing imminent displacement to pave way for the coal mining and thermal power project. The project is owned by Chinese nationals who incorporated a firm known as Beifa Investments.

“We are alarmed that despite consistent resistance by the Dinde community for the past two years, these concerns have not been listened to. Instead the community is facing threats, harassment and the arrest of Tshuma,” reads the statement.

They say  the Dinde community – a mix of indigenous Nambya and Tonga tribes has lived in this area since around 300AD. The community has adapted to the environment and are famous for craft and cattle breeding.

The area to be affected, spanning across three rural wards – is home to thousands of families. At full scale the project is going to destroy at least 13 schools, a dip tank, thousands of homesteads, cultural heritage sites which include the grave site of local traditional chiefs and several cemeteries.

Further, the community has raised concern about the destruction of their ecosystems due to the proposed project – especially pollution of the Nyantuwe River which is the life of this community. They also worry that the proposed 270 Megawatt thermal power station is going to affect air quality and exacerbate climate change in the region. Matabeleland North Province is in Natural Regions 1V and V which are classified as arid and semi-arid. The Chinese investor has vowed to continue with the exploration project despite the community protests and went further to disclose its intention to set up a thermal power station in that community. The special grant issued to Beifa Investments covers 4070 Hectares in 4 wards, namely ward 13, 14, 19 and 20.

Beifa Investments, the community members say, no financial resources to fund relocation. This is specially towards building of standard infrastructure for the affected families.

“We are deeply concerned that this project is going to increase the vulnerability of women and children in this community. The enclosure of land by Beifa Investments and subsequent pollution of the Nyantuwe River means women will walk longer distances to search for water and escort children to school,” stated the Civil Society.

The society called on the governments of Zimbabwe  to halt the proposed project and invest the same financial resources in renewable energy which is less harmful to the environment and communities and yet can achieve the same objective.

They pointed out, “We will also be following up with a call to the Chinese government and financiers of Beifa Investments to abandon the fossil project, which can result in extensive destruction of flora and fauna and join the growing number of financial institutions using their money to save the planet instead of baking it.”

According to Dinde Residents Association, from February 2019 to December 2019, a team of Chinese nationals would tour the village without consulting or engaging locals. In December 2019, the same team brought some lightweight machinery and set up a camp in the village. Locals mobilised each other and approached the Chinese to establish the nature of business they were undertaking in the area. In a show of resistance, locals ordered them to leave and return with documents granting them permission to work in Dinde. Thereafter, the Chinese investors have visited Dinde community with several officers from the Environmental Management Agency; Hwange Rural District Council; Traditional Leadership; members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army and and a local miner.

Among the organisations leading the protest are; 350Africa.org, Africa Coal Network, Africa Climate Justice Group, Alternative Information & Development Centre, Cape Town, Amigas de la Tierra/Friends of the Earth Spain, Amnesty International Zimbabwe, Centre for Citizens Conserving, Centre for Natural Resource Governance,  deCOALonize Campaign, Denver Justice & Peace Committee, Dinde Residents Association, Ecologistas en AcciónSpain. Among over 50 other organisations across South and East Africa.

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Environment

Mcheleni Dumping Site An Eyesore in Mombasa

The hygiene in the Mcheleni area is very poor full of mosquitos, poor drainage that carries the sewage waste flowing it to the resident’s homes leaving the with no place to run to for the safety of the health which is believed to be contribute by a group of youths later last year refuses when the waste was be collected to stopped those who were collecting causing conflict among the resident and the county.

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By Jane Mwanza

An area in Changamwe,  Mombasa City County is in big danger especially the children because of negligence in the disposal of waste material at Mcheleni dumping site.

Residents of Kipevu Ward within Changamwe  are living in big fear. They risk contracting communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria due to overload of the dumping site.

A section of the uncollected garbage in Mcheleni dumping within Changamwe Sub-County. Residents complain of the awful smell. (Photo: by Jane Mwanza/ Correspondent Africa)

Mariam Kapera, an environmental assistant in Changamwe Ward said,  “The health of locals is in big danger especially the children because of negligence from the county government of Mombasa.”

Addressing the media at Mcheleni site, Mariam noted, “This dumping site has become the biggest challenge we are facing as the people of Kipevu community.” More, she observed that as a junior environmental activist,  residents complaints to her about  uncollected garbage which has reached their doorsteps. They say the county government has shown laxity in the collection thus an unpleasant smell that comes from the dumping site is awful.

” This is  a major issue, many residents have been forced to shut down all their daily activities due to bad smell. They are not able to enjoy meals at home peacefully. The smell is too strong for them to handle and they are scared of contagious diseases coming up from the site, ” said the activist.

Another resident who fear reprisal,  Anne (Not her real name)  said, “We are suffering, our children are in serious danger every day. we are treating them for diarrhea. They are vomiting and no money to take them to hospital and we are having endless sickness we are pleading with county government to do everything possible to remove the dumping site if you not unable please bring private sector to helps us.”

Angry residents of Kipevu ward said they are tired of complaining to county governor Hassan Ali Joho who has been ignoring their voices over the Mcheleni dumping site but instead uses millions of county resources hiring the celebrities to entertain him for his leisure than paying attention to matters affecting his people.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho (Photo: Courtesy)

“Governor has the ability to help if he can bring so many musicians to come and perform for him. Why can’t he afford the resource to hire private sector to come and clean Mcheleni for us whereby it will only take the private sector one day to clean?” asked a resident.

The hygiene in the Mcheleni area is very poor fully of mosquitos, poor drainage that carries the sewage waste flowing it to the resident’s homes leaving the with no place to run to for the safety of the health which is believed to be contribute by a group of youths later last year refuses when the waste was be collected to stopped those who were collecting causing conflict among the resident and the county.

In her defense to the county government Kipevu Ward Member of County Assembly Faith Mwende Boniface said Mombasa county has only one shovel that operates in collecting garbage to all the collections point in Mombasa which currently has breakdown and they haven’t been able to get the spare parts due shortage of cash the counties have been experiencing recently.

Kipevu MCA Faith Mwende Boniface (Photo: By Faith Mwende /Facebook)

“We only have one shovel in the whole of Mombasa county that collects garbage from all the collecting point but at the moment I have been informed by the director of environment Mr. Amar the shovel has a breakdown and it’s at Kisauni-sub county at the moment that where it was damaged and up now they haven’t been able to finds spare parts,” said MCA.

Mwende added it her duty to inform her people when the county got money and to inform them when don’t have and it’s the county responsibility to ensure their resident are living in some clean and proper hygiene environments for their better health

She pleaded with her residents to be careful when dumping the garbage not just by throwing everywhere instead to keep them at one place in order to easen the work of the garbage collector and reduces the speared of communicable diseases.

“I want to ask the citizens those who are using this dump site to take care of the site by using it well because those collecting this garbage are our youths and those throwing all over are still our people because while throwing it they don’t preserve it well in sacks and containers that why its pilled all over, just to ensure the director of environment has assures me that together with his team they are going to find an alternative way to make sure they get rid of the garbage and the dumpsite clean,” she said.

The MCA pointed out to the Ward administrators who are elected to be eyes of the executive on the ground to neglect performing their duties that they are being paid off.

In most cases MP and MCA receives blames from the public for the problems of ward administrators who are supposed to be working closely with public in identifying the problems facing the residents in their areas and try to solve it

“Ward administrator was supposed to come and check the dumpsite problem and fix issue but when the problem is beyond of his control then is when the public sent me to take the motion to county assembly to represent them to the executive. Ward administrative is supposed to be very close to the citizen who is on the ground on their daily activity because they are devolved in ward levels and they are being paid salaries they should be enjoying the salaries they worked for,” Mwende said.

A section of trenches filled with waster water bottles and waste material. ( Photo: By Jane Mwanza)

Waste manager chairman Kipevu ward and board member of environment Changamwe sub-county Jackson Wanyonyi wants Mr. Amary to remove all the Mcheleni garbage in a week times because it becoming a threat to humans or the community will be forced to take an action which it won’t be a good move.

The residents have challenged Mombasa governor Hassan Joho to collaborate with the department of environment and waste management to ensure that they carry all the garbage to their disposal place.

In conclusion Kipevu MCA Mwende urged her area residents who like causing composition when the county shovel come to collect the waste the stop that habit and co-operate well and give them their time to do the job and its only because of good understanding and cooperation will be able to live in good and clean environment with no sickness.

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Environment

Kenya’s Environment Minister implores developed countries to support Reduction Of Green House Emissions

Tobiko implores developed countries to support climate change programmes

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The Eighth secretary-general of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki-moon (left) engages Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on the sidelines of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) High-Level meeting in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Cabinet Secretary for   Environment and Forestry in Kenya Keriako Tobiko has called on developed countries to take leadership in reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Minister who is the Country’s Director of Public Prosecutions also called for the provision of mechanisms for adaptation because they contribute at least 80% of GHGs.

Leading the Kenyan delegation to the ongoing Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) High-Level meetings in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the CS decried lack of commitment from the developed countries, the largest polluters, to support vulnerable countries that are suffering the consequences of the vagaries of climate change.

At the GCA High-Level Dialogue with Youth on “Accelerating Adaptation in a Climate Emergency” at the University of Groningen, Tobiko called on the youth to seize opportunities, use their large numbers, digital platforms and power to help reverse the effects of environmental pollution, saying the current destruction of the natural environment will affect future generations.

He lauded various players who are promoting bold and innovative partnerships for action to support the most vulnerable communities. Such players include the GCA, African Development Bank and African Union’s Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, which is mobilizing US$25 billion to drive transformational adaptation actions on the African continent and seeks to propel locally-led adaptation efforts.

The 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Co-Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, Mr Ban Ki-moon, called for bold solutions to tackle the crisis presented by climate change and, more so to, to support youth in contributing to curb climate change.

Citing former Nobel Laurette Wangari Maathai, he said, “Nature is very generous, but very unforgiving when disturbed.”

The event discussions were meant to explore how youth, academia and the most vulnerable communities can collaborate and spur bolder action on adaptation in response to the global climate emergency and consider concrete activities that can be taken in advance of and following the 2021 UN Climate Conference at Glasgow, COP26.

Among those who attended the meeting included former President H.E Mohamed Nasheed, of the Maldives, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, H.E. Vera Songwe Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia H.E. Rola Dashti, former Real Madrid soccer player Arjen Robben, Youth representatives of the University of Groningen among others.

A communique issued at the High-Level Dialogue meeting confirmed that our planet is warming faster than previously thought. We are now on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) of warming above pre-industrial levels by the 2030s. “The next decade will see the Earth further heat up by approximately half of all the 1.1°C of global warming experienced throughout the entire period spanning the advent of the industrial era in the nineteenth century until today,” the communique said.

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Developing Countries Require a Balanced, Inclusive, and Multilateral Approach to Climate Change to avert Poverty by 2030

Discussed in a collaborative virtual meeting at OPEC’s Ministerial Roundtable on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development, industry leaders emphasized the role that natural gas and developed countries will play in Africa’s energy transition

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Africa is on the precipice of both an energy sector and economic transformation, with the continent making accelerated efforts to develop its immense resources. Driven by the continent’s growing demand for energy, and the increased capacity of local service companies in resource-rich countries, Africa is committed to using its natural resources as a catalyst for sustained economic growth. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend has become increasingly more important, especially if Africa is to eradicate poverty by 2030. Yet, unilaterally formulated climate mitigation objectives often fail to consider the adverse effects this agenda has on developing countries. With the number of people without access to electricity threatening to increase with the pandemic, the need for a balanced, inclusive, and multilateral approach to climate change mitigation has been noted.

With the aim of discussing key challenges and opportunities relating to global action in tackling climate change, specifically in the context of sustainable development and poverty alleviation, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary General, H.E. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, held a virtual Ministerial Roundtable discussion on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development on 6 September 2021. Participants included representatives from OPEC member countries and non-OPEC oil producing countries, India as well as international organizations including the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPO), the African Energy Chamber (AEC), the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), the International Energy Forum (IEF), the African Refiners & Distributors Association, and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).

Climate Change Remains one of the Greatest Challenges of our Time

The International Energy Agency (IEA) posits, in its 2021 Global Energy Review, that global emissions from energy use is set to increase by 1.5 billion tons to 33 billion tons in 2021, despite a 5.8% reduction in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed lockdowns. With the energy sector accounting for 72% of total emissions, urgent action is required. In response, the international community, through the Paris Climate Agreement, has opted for the immediate reduction in fossil fuel-directed financing, advocating for the switch to renewable energy sources and the end of hydrocarbon use worldwide. The impacts of reduced finance for African oil and gas developments are significant, especially considering the reliance on foreign direct investment in expanding energy sectors and driving socioeconomic development. Despite intentions to reduce greenhouse emissions globally, these initiatives threaten to further accentuate energy poverty in Africa.

The Need for a Common-but-Differentiated Approach

In the OPEC-led Ministerial Roundtable, one of the recurring themes was that Africa requires a flexible approach to mitigating climate change. With energy poverty eradication a primary objective for every African state, the continent needs all of its oil and gas resources if it is to ensure long-term, sustainable economic growth. According to H.E. Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, Angola’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum, “there is a need for an inclusive, pragmatic and holistic approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change, taking into account national circumstances and priorities, as well as the principles of equity and common-but-differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”

“Developing countries are part of the solution, not the problem. It could be argued that choosing one of two energy options will not lead to the expected sustainability. Pursuing such a narrow strategy could even exacerbate the challenge of energy poverty in the world. With 800 million people without access to electricity, the flexibility to use a variety of energy carriers will lead to increased access in all countries,” stated H.E. Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Minister of Petroleum for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If the continent is to ensure effective economic growth in the wake of the pandemic, countries need to be able to develop their oil and gas resources. Rather than eliminate hydrocarbons, by utilizing their resources for stronger, ore sustained economic development, energy poverty can be eradicated by 2030. Accordingly, the Roundtable introduced the role that natural gas, in particular, will play in Africa’s energy future.

“The GECF gives a voice to natural gas as part of the solution to balanced, sustainable development. There has been a commitment by the GECF heads of state to increase the pace of global energy transition and the positive contribution of natural gas to climate mitigation. We need to emphasize the need to consider all energy sources without discrimination. Natural gas and oil will provide more than 50% of global energy demand by 2050 and will continue to be responsible for inclusive economic growth for decades to come. Gas is one of the global enablers to reduce emissions,” stated H.E. Yury Sentyurin, Secretary General of the GECF.

“We need the energy sector to work for local development. A short-term priority should be how to harness these resources in a sustainable way. The gas sector, in particular, is a key driver of this dynamic,” added Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani, Advisory Board Member of the AEC.

“There can be no constructive dialogue in energy transition without energy poverty being placed at the forefront of the debate. Our planet will only be better if we all work together. We believe in Africa, that oil and gas is part of the future. We have an obligation to develop our resources while following the climate change mitigation,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.

Collaboration is Essential for Progress

In the move to eradicate energy poverty, unilateral climate mitigation strategies threaten to hinder progress. Therefore, the need for a collaborative approach has been emphasized in which both developed and developing countries engage in an inclusive debate. As H.E. Barkindo suggests, “we need multilateralism at the center of our energy, climate and sustainable development future.” Accordingly, developing countries should not be left out of the debate on climate mitigation, but should take on an inclusive role.

“The energy transition should be accompanied by a world-wide debate. With concerted policy and open debate, we will find a path to retain a solution and reduce the impact of climate change. We do not need more declaration, we need urgent action,” stated H.E. Tareck El Aissami, Minister of Oil of Venezuela.

What’s more, Africa’s economic and energy future requires support from developed countries, “including financial resources, technology development and transfer and capacity building to aid adaptation and back increased ambitions for climate action,” as H.E. Barkindo stated. Rather than enforce “unilateral coercion measures that effect sustainable development, climate mitigation should go beyond the commercial agenda to serve men, women and households for the construction of the transition that includes energy security,” added H.E. Aissami. Accordingly, a collaborative approach between developing countries, who require an adapted strategy to mitigation, and developed countries, who hold the financial resources needed to help Africa in its energy transition and sustainable development.

“The capacities and national circumstances of developing countries must be taken into account in all actions. In order to not render countries already struggling even more besieged, it is necessary to carefully consider the adverse socio-economic impacts on these countries due to mitigation activities, in order to identify remediation measures and share best practices,” concluded H.E. Barkindo.

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