Editor's Comment

Army must step in


DURING the Zambia Army officers’ annual ball at Army headquarters in Lusaka on the eve of 2020, President Edgar Lungu challenged the military to fully participate in activities aimed at mitigating effects of climate change, a threat to the growth of the economy.
President Lungu said defence forces should adopt climate-smart approaches to help reverse the adverse effects of climate change.
He advised them to get fully involved in activities such as tree-planting to replenish Zambia’s threatened environment.
The presidential message may be viewed from a number of angles.
From the outset, many may say the Army may not have the requisite expertise in this area compared to the Zambia National Service (ZNS), which over a period of time has been involved in several activities. However, with a proper policy direction, the Army, just like the Zambia Air Force, could be up to the task with the long-term plan, which comes with planting trees.
Climate change is a civilian issue, like any other civilian issues, but where there is an emergency situation regardless of whether it is military issues or civil issues or medical issues, the military can be brought in to help, exactly like what President Lungu did during the cholera outbreak in Lusaka.
President Lungu set a good precedent during the cholera emergency when he sent in the military to restore cleanliness. This was done with precision and timeously.
When the Musuzi bridge, which links Lundazi and Chipata, was swept away by rains last season, the Army was brought in to quickly put up a temporary bridge and traffic flowed again.
Emergency situations demand emergency solutions.
This happens in other countries too.
President Lungu has been on a crusade sensitising the country about the adverse effects of climate change.
Given the negative impact the country has faced from climate change, it has almost become an emergency, hence the need to engage all stakeholders, including the military.
The Army is better equipped and disciplined to handle emergency situations.
In peace situations like now, the military (Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force and Zambia National Service) would ably serve as the national disaster management and mitigation unit.
So, what the President called for is well placed to be done by the three military wings, including the Zambia Correctional Service, which is already doing it to some extent.
The three military wings should raise the game and embrace the challenge by the President by engaging in tree-planting.
By now, the three security wings may have started thinking about how to deal with this assignment. They may have to work closely with the Forestry Department (FD) to identify areas in most need of reforestation.
The forestry experts would also advise which trees are most suitable for the various parts of the country.
The military has the human resource to speedily deal with tree-planting. High targets can be easily reached.
With due respect, the Forestry Department is evidently handicapped in various areas for it to be as efficient as would be expected of it.
It is in a situation in which the Rural Road Unit (RRU) found itself in years ago. The RRU was rekindled by transferring it to the Zambia National Service.
The Forestry Department could need similar resuscitation, through integration.
All this would be for the good of the country as it takes action against the threats of climate change.

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