Summary of FCFA’s research on climate change in Zimbabwe

FCFA’s research on climate change in Zimbabwe was conducted in the capital city, Harare, and was led by FRACTAL consortium partner Chinhoyi University of Technology. FRACTAL aimed to understand the decision context and the climate science required to contribute to climate resilience in southern Africa, focussing on development in nine southern African cities (Blantyre, Durban, Cape Town, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek).

Zimbabwe

LEARNING LABS 

Learning labs are engagements strongly focussed on mutual and integrated learning about identified development issues in cities. Drawing strongly on serious gaming, mess mapping and even improvised drama to encourage building trust, openness, and transparency, the labs had significant impacts and outputs in many of the cities. 

 

THINK TANKS  TO EXPLORE DECISION-MAKING

The think tank in Harare sought to bring together stakeholders who were involved in decisions related to the upgrade of the Morton Jaffray Water Works to unpack elements of the decision in the form of very rich, facilitated, semi-structured conversations. The think tank was led by senior researchers from the city team and were supported by the early career researchers.

 

EMBEDDED RESEARCHER APPROACH

The Embedded Researcher (ER) approach was adopted by FRACTAL to bridge the science-policy divide (most notably for climate science). Early career researchers from local universities were appointed as ERs to work within government spaces (e.g. municipalities) in Southern African cities. The aim of this approach was to co-explore and co-produce knowledge, create and sustain learning opportunities to integrate climate information into cities, strengthen urban governance networks and share lessons between African cities and beyond. 

Through the appointment of two Embedded Researchers (ERs) in Harare City Council, a new approach was implemented to focus on building relationships and receptivity of stakeholders to issues relating to climate variability and the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe.

 

CLIMATE RISK NARRATIVES

Climate Risk Narratives are stories of various climate futures that have ideally been co-produced using a diversity of knowledge sources and perspectives. The co-production of knowledge uses climate information with stories of plausible futures from a wide range of stakeholders to bring together climate information and local knowledge into Climate Risk Narratives that can broaden conversations across sectors.

Prior to FRACTAL’s involvement in Harare, few city-focus climate knowledge projects had been carried out. FRACTAL played a pivotal role initiating stakeholder reflection on decision-making processes involving climate information. The development of Climate Risk Narratives for Harare initiated this reflection by understanding the perceptions of climate change in Zimbabwe among decision-makers. The Harare Embedded Researchers were responsible for investigating the city’s climate-energy-water nexus to further the understanding and engagements around cross-cutting issues of Harare’s water and energy sectors.

Through increasing the receptivity of stakeholders, greater awareness and willingness for engagement and exploration of these cross-cutting issues emerged. Funding from the Small Opportunities Grants supported learning exchanges with Windhoek and Lusaka, which offered stakeholders from Harare the opportunity to share and learn from the experiences on best practices in other southern African cities. This fostered new approaches for effective collaboration in the water and energy sectors. The increased engagement and appetite for shared learning within the city led to researchers and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZNWA) proactively seeking additional funding to ensure the continuation of the ERs.

 

HARARE THINK TANK & MORTON JAFFRAY WATER TREATMENT PLANT

A Think Tank session was held under FCFA’s Innovation Fund to explore perspectives that underpin decisions in Harare in particular, in relation to the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant.

The Morton Jaffray Treatment Plant, originally built in 1956, was upgraded in 1994 to increase the capacity of the plant, and again in 2010 as a response to a cholera outbreak. Despite these costly upgrades, the plant is still operating at a 58% capacity and is unable to sufficiently provide water to households across the Greater Harare area. In order for the Morton Jaffray plant to sufficiently supply water to the City and be climate resilient, upgrades need to be proactive rather than reactive in times of crisis. 

A small group of decision-makers specifically related to the upgrade of Morton Jaffray water works in Harare were engaged through semi structured discussions. FRACTAL’s Embedded Researchers engaged with discussions around future upgrades to the plant to explore the decision-making processes around water in the City and to provide key climate information into considerations for the upgrade.

The Think Tank revealed the City operates primarily on a crisis decision-making basis, suffers from political interference, lacks policy guiding decision-making processes in the water sector, and lacks financial resources. FRACTAL’s principles of collaboration, co-production, and co-exploration have therefore been noted to be critical for bridging the gap between researchers and decision-makers in Harare.

  • FRACTAL was partly responsible for engagements on improving climate adaptation in Zimbabwe through planning and mainstreaming climate adaptation plans in Harare.

  • Produced a policy brief focusing on the water sector, drawing on discussions around decision-making and climate resilience in Zimbabwe.

  • Supported the initiation of the Climate Change Desk under the Town Clerk in the City of Harare.