GABORONE, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Botswana's environment minister on Friday urged citizens of Botswana to conserve the wetlands as an effective way to address the impact of climate change.
In his keynote address for the 2019 World Wetlands Day in Selibe-Phikwe, some 350 km northeast of the capital city of Gaborone, Kitso Mokaila said environmental degradation is worsening Botswana's efforts in the fight against climate change.
The World Wetlands Day occurs annually on Feb. 2.
Climate change is already being blamed for a number of changes in Botswana, including longer drought episodes, changes in rainfall patterns, outbreaks of crop diseases that affect the most important sector to rural households and subsistence agriculture.
At a national level, Botswana is experiencing significant water shortages, resulting in dependence on its neighboring countries for inter-basin water transfers to complement its domestic supply.
As a result of climate change, Botswana is experiencing extremely high temperature and a decline in river flows.
"There is need for the conservation of wetlands because they play a significant role in the protection of the environment. Wetlands can capture almost 30 percent of carbon dioxide," said Mokaila during the event held under the theme "Wetlands and Climate Change."
Besides protecting the environment, Mokaila said the wetlands are a tourist attraction to many who visit the southern African country to enjoy the scenic view of the magnificent Okavango Delta in the northwest.
"Tourism is contributing significantly to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) thanks to the wetlands," said Mokaila, adding that the diamond rich nation of Botswana aims to attract more tourists from China.
In the southern Africa region, Botswana is one of the countries affected by loss of livestock under prolonged drought conditions given its extensive rangeland.