Environmental hazards

Zambia is a country like any other prone to a wide variety of natural and human- induced hazards and disasters. Phenomena such as floods, extreme wind speeds, earthquakes, mudslides, droughts, wildfires, pest plagues, air and water pollution cause extensive losses to livelihoods and property, and claim many lives. This study attempts to bring to light disasters or hazards, there examples, as well draw attention to the challenges faced by the government of Zambia in controlling the disasters or hazards and Conclude with suggested possible solutions to the discussed disasters r hazards.

A ‘hazard’, by definition, is any event, phenomenon, or human activity that may cause loss. Natural and human induced factors may act together to create a hazard, sites Dilled et al, (2005). For example, earthquakes are normally considered to be natural hazards, but they can also be triggered by mining activities or the impoundments of large dams. A landslide can be caused by a combination of heavy rains, light earth tremors, and deforestation. A ‘disaster’ has been defined by Dilled et al. ,(2005) as an event that causes serious disruption, leading to widespread unman, material, or economic losses beyond the coping capacity of a given society.

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Disaster management requires a set of actions and processes that are designed to lessen hazardous events before they become disasters. Each and every country is subjected to experience hazards and disasters. In Zambia however, DOOM (2005) lists some of the most important hazards and disasters among others such as; droughts, floods, epidemics, pest infestation, environmental degradation, refugees, and internally displaced populations as well as accidents. This essay will cover roughs, floods, epidemics, pest infestation, environmental degradation, pollution (air) and accidents.

Floods to start with, are among the most devastating natural hazards in Zambia, whereas flash floods are among the greatest hazards arising from severe storms which the country does experience. As proved by Seasoned K in Times of Zambia dated January 27, 2013 who cites an incident where a “heavy downpour swept through Chamber district causing flash floods and a trail of destruction to people’s homes and crops”. Floods and flash floods cause loss of life, damage to repertory, and promote the spread of diseases such as malaria, fever, cholera, and dysentery.

While the primary cause of flooding is abnormally high rainfall, there are many human-induced contributing causes of floods such as: land degradation; deforestation of catchments areas; increased population density along riverbanks; poor land use planning, inadequate drainage particularly in cities and inadequate management of discharges from river reservoirs. Flooding can also be caused by the failure of dams, both constructed and natural. Pests are other hazards that roam free n Zambia. According to Menages et al. , (1995:16) “A pest is an animal, insect or plant that causes damage to crop plants or animals by feeding on them”.

Examples of pests that occur in large numbers in Zambia include ticks, larger grain borer, the African army worms, stock borer, tsetse fly, locusts, rodents, aphids, grain-eating birds, are all common causing great agricultural losses, contributing to poverty and famine. Other Pests such as locusts, grain-eating birds also contribute to great agricultural losses, contributing to poverty and famine Air pollution is becoming a experiencing among the world’s rapid rate of mining investment at nearly 5% per annum, states UN/KIDS (2004).

This is attributed alongside policy regimes that encourage utilization of dirty fuels, a sharp rise in the importation of old and outdated cars, and inefficient industrial plants, is seriously affecting air quality on the continent. Because of the heavy load of contaminated dusts in the air of highly populated cities, the ambient concentrations of toxic metals are now among the highest that have been reported in the world. Lead pollution from the rising number f automobiles and cottage industries represents a major health hazard.

The mining sector in Zambia contributes to air pollution so much. For instance, around the Unfamiliar smelter there is enormous air pollution, with sulfur dioxide in the part of the town where the miners live. According to the Head of the Planning and Information Department, Zambia Ministry of the Environment, March (2009), “The air is heavy and leaves a metallic taste in one’s mouth. The mine’s chimneys are constantly spewing out smoke, day and night. The inhabitants confirm that the sulfur dioxide emissions have not ceased”. E Africa Environment Outlook (AWE) report in UNEVEN, (2002) shows that the use of biomass fuel, besides degrading the environment, also raises the risk to health of women and children, who mostly do the cooking in African families. In Zambia, for example, children under five years of age who die from acute respiratory infections. Though minimal, Water pollution (for example, contamination in rivers and lakes) is also a serious hazard in Zambia. The capital town alone (Lusaka risks) losing more than half of its water supply if the pollution of ground water continues.

In 2000, over 3 million people did not have access to clean and safe water and over 5 million went without adequate sanitation. In addition, low-income urban dwellers have to pay high prices for water, sometimes up to 50 times the price paid by higher income groups”, the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LAWS) has states. This problem has been worsened by high rates of uncontrolled arbitration, illegal settlements and industrial activity. Human epidemics in Zambia such as cholera, measles, typhoid, HIVE [AIDS, malaria and dysentery are common.

Most environmental problems facing Zambia are difficult to solve as they are never- ending, spread/ persistent and excessively affect poor communities. Research to be. Early warning means providing timely and effective information through identified institutions, so that vulnerable communities can take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response. The challenge in Zambia is how to provide relevant education at different levels (communities, schools, tertiary institutions) to facilitate mitigation of hazards.

Policies put in place are not being implemented and not fully followed due to various reasons. Corruption is one of them; individual running policy making decisions may not be in a position to firmly low for policies to be implemented. However, for Zambia to see fewer lives being lost there is a need to establish dialogue among scientists, policy and decision- makers. As environmental degradation is not only a technical/scientific problem, any discussion of environmental degradation should involve policy and decision-makers.

For example, to address the issues related to air pollution, PAIN, a regional network of scientists, policy-makers, and non-governmental organizations (Nags), has been established and currently covers the southern Africa region. Their activities form part f a program on Atmospheric Environment Issues in Developing Countries, coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEE) and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SAID) under a project with the title “Regional Air Pollution in Developing Countries” (RAPID).

Jesse
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