Zambia needs climate-resilient infrastructure

THE practical role of engineering has never come into greater focus than now when the world is reeling under the impact of climate change.
This impact is being felt more in developing countries such as Zambia with less adaptive capacity than in developed nations.
In Zambia, flooding has left a trail of destruction of public and private infrastructure such as roads, bridges, health facilities, and schools, among others.
The collapse of houses and blowing off of roofs at health facilities and schools has almost become an annual event.
Climate change has resulted in a cycle of floods and drought.
This phenomenon, therefore, places a huge premium on our local engineers to research on climatic changes and design climate-resilient infrastructure.
The country needs local solutions for local problems.
Even as our engineers think globally, which is absolutely necessary, they need to act locally because they are familiar with the countrywide terrain of Zambia.
This is because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to climate change challenges.
Each solution is situation-specific, hence the need for our engineers to find local solutions to climate-proof our infrastructure from looming disasters.
Engineers can collaborate with the Zambia Meteorology Department when designing projects.
It makes engineers a laughing stock when infrastructure built at a huge cost to the Treasury collapses just at the onset of the rains.
This is because at this stage, engineers are expected to be putting up structures which should stand the test of time.
Infrastructure contributes to economic development. It aids productivity by providing amenities which enhance the quality of life.
Little wonder that successive governments have invested in infrastructure such as airports, bridges, border posts, roads, schools, health facilities, office accommodation, residential accommodation, warehouses, shopping malls, hydro, solar, and thermal power stations.
This is because infrastructure development is a contributor to the country’s social and economic stability.
Political parties in power use infrastructure as the measure of their success during their tenure of office.
Infrastructure is the cornerstone for any economy to thrive as it supports sustainable development.
A country with solid and attractive infrastructure will certainly be attractive to investors and tourists.
So, as engineers undertake their work, they should have all these factors in mind.
Therefore, the call on local engineers to embrace research on changes in the weather pattern as they implement infrastructure development projects to ensure that they are sustainable amidst climate change adverse effects is timely.
Michael Nsefu, an engineer, said this during a presentation on the role of engineers in climate adaptability at the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) annual general meeting (AGM) in Kitwe.
Dr Nsefu acknowledged that the country has in the past few years witnessed effects of climate change which have caused damage to some infrastructure projects.
He said the effects of climate change should be addressed by engineers through seeking better solutions to ensure that the infrastructure is durable.
EIZ is justified in calling out engineers on this critical matter.
Climate change is here to stay. So, the earlier local engineers become climate-smart, the better for the country’s infrastructure.
Contracting institutions should, on the other hand, work closely with EIZ so that it is aware of the company or companies and personnel working on what projects so that in the event of shoddy works, such firms or institutions should not only be held accountable but penalised.