Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Climate change: The story of people with albinism

Courage Dutiro

People with albinism have been travelling a rocky path as they continue to struggle with the effects of climate change which has brought about weather patterns which are not favorable to their sensitive skin.
Extreme temperatures that often characterize the sudden changes of weather make life unbearable for people with albinism.
Albinism is a genetic condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.
Health expert and medical doctor, Dr Brighton Chizhande said people with albinism are disproportionately affected by the ultraviolet rays produced by the sun and they are major victims of skin cancer.
“Those with the condition are more vulnerable to ultraviolet rays produced by the sun. Their skin is too sensitive to sun exposure. Due to harsh temperatures caused by climate change they develop chronic irritation. These temperatures expose them to high risks of developing skin cancer more than those without the condition,” said Chizhande.
Climate change is regarded as a threat multiplier to most vulnerable communities mostly in developing countries that are still lagging behind in terms of adaptation and mitigation techniques.
Hamilton Muto (27) of ward 8 in Zaka district who has albinism and is battling skin cancer said he struggles to bear the brunt during summertime and ends up compromising his outdoor economic activities.
“High temperatures in summer time affect us very much especially those who do not have money to buy enough creams and other stuff that we use as people with albinism.
“I used to engage in informal trading but now am stuck at home because I developed a facial skin cancer that is eating up my cheek,” said Muto.
For Muto aforestation, reforestation and other activities are the only way to go when it comes to mitigation of global warming.
“People should normalize planting trees; they play a great part in mitigating climate change. The government should also set aside a team of doctors that will look after those who are facing challenges from diseases that emanate from climate change-related issues,” said Muto.
Environment Africa Monitoring and Evaluation officer, Laura Mlambo also weighed in saying climate change has presented extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves where high heat incidents and droughts are experienced.
“Climate change through intense heat and light events affect people with albinism. Through heat waves and drought conditions, people with albinism are sometimes deterred from those jobs that require them to work in the sun for long or even short periods, this affects work opportunities for them,” said Mlambo.
Mlambo added that rigorous climate change action must be taken immediately and issues to do with people with albinism must be mainstreamed in Climate Change Policy without fail.
“Responsible authorities should mainstream issues to do with people with albinism in the Climate Change Policy and programming. Social protection programs that cater for this group of vulnerable people and more rigorous climate change action itself should be increased starting now. Also, affirmative action in providing equal employment for people with albinism is a necessity,” said Mlambo.
High levels of coordination between government ministries and stakeholders at all heights can help to deal with climate change and its effects.
In the energy sector, use of renewable energy such as green energy and energy efficiency technologies has been lobbied to be one of the most efficient and sustainable way of mitigating global warming.
Climate-smart agriculture practice by farmers is also another way of adapting to climate change that can raise livelihoods as well as sustaining environmental honor.
Sustainable Development Goal number 13 (SDG 13) which calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is among the ten focus goals that the government of Zimbabwe is prioritizing in implementing the seventeen SDGs.

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