OVER 300,000 people risk losing their jobs due to the impact of climate change which is frustrating Government's efforts in reducing poverty and unemployment in the country.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said climate change effects have in the last three decades cost Zambia more than K70 billion in terms of Gross Domestic Product.
Mr Chikwanda said without adaptation, significant losses of job opportunities could occur, hence the need for valuable mechanisms to address the impact of climate change.
He said this in Choma yesterday when he signed a financing agreement of K212, 960,000 (US$38.9 million), on behalf of Government, with African Development Bank (AfDB) country representative Freddie Kwesiga.
The agreement is for the Strategic Programme of Climate Resilience in Zambia.
The project would strengthen climate resilience in the Kafue sub-basin and would cover six districts which include Choma, Namwala, Itezhi-Tezhi, Mumbwa, Kafue and Chibombo.
He said the signing of the grant with AfDB would help address community challenges through meaningful interventions in vulnerable areas such as the Kafue sub-basin where the project would be done.
Mr Chikwanda said the project would involve community-driven participatory adaptation at a cost of $17.26 million on community infrastructure projects such as flood controls, irrigation schemes, restocking ponds and forestry plantations.
Others include construction and rehabilitation of climate change resilient roads amounting to $17.50 million through improving rural roads that link farmers to markets and Kafue National Park, totalling 127.25 kilometres, which would be done without floods.
Mr Chikwanda was confident that the project would enhance food security by strengthening adaptive capacity of 800,000 beneficiaries out of whom 350,000 were women while 1,772,000 were indirect beneficiaries who depend on rain-fed agriculture.
Dr Kwesiga said the financing agreement in Choma followed an earlier launch of a sister project financed by the World Bank in Barotse sub-basin in Western Province.
He said AfDB was committed to helping countries like Zambia to achieve socio-economic development by transforming prosperity into meaningful development for the citizens.
Dr Kwesiga said climate change impacts, if not well addressed, could undermine the resilience of people's livelihoods and Zambia's environmental integrity.
Southern Province Minister Daniel Munkombwe said Government's commitment to addressing issues of climate change showed President Michael Sata's desire to improve people's living standards.
Meanwhile, Mr Chikwanda has said people should view the challenges they face as opportunities depending on how they respond to them.
Mr Chikwanda's remarks followed Itezhi-Tezhi District Commissioner Roy Nangalelwa's brief to the minister on the various challenges the district was facing.
This was during the minister's courtesy call on the District Commissioner at his office yesterday.
Mr Chikwanda reiterated his remarks when he addressed various stakeholders at the Itezhi-Tezhi District Council chamber.
He urged the residents to fully utilise the abundant natural resources it was endowed with such as water to sustain their livelihoods without entirely depending on Government.
Speaking earlier, Mr Nangalelwa said the tourism sector in the area was being affected by squatters in the game management areas coupled with the indiscriminate cutting down of trees and poaching in the Kafue National Park.