Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Climate threats in South Africa

Dwa in Defence Web in South Africa has a statement by the country’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in response to a parliamentary question: …The research which has been conducted in South Africa in an attempt to quantify the climatic trend and the nature, likelihood and potential consequences’ impact thereof has confirmed the impact to various sectors as a result of climate change. Sectors such as agriculture, water and forestry are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, as a result of decreases in rainfall and the increased frequency of extreme weather events such as flooding, drought and heat waves. Besides these, climate change also threatens major sectors such as health and tourism. … Poor communities, children, women and small scale farmers are likely to be the most affected by the effects of climate change because they are unlikely to respond to the direct and indirect effects of climate change because of limited financial, human and institutional capacity.

…South Africa is, overall, a water stressed country with the mean annual rainfall of about 490 mm compared with the global average of about 876 mm. Climate change is one of several drivers currently influencing water resources in South Africa’s rivers as a result of high temperature…. A reduction in rainfall amount or variability, or an increase in evaporation (due to higher temperatures) would further strain the already limited amount of water resources and water quality.

…There are various initiatives being undertaken by the department and other government departments which include: climate change capacity building to National departments, Provincials, District and local municipalities in the country, coordinating climate change adaptation sector plan with sector departments such as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tourism, Water, Health, Social Development, Rural Development, and SALGA. The Department facilitates the establishment of South African adaptation network/forum an NGO’s initiative aimed at promoting adaptation issues, capacity building, sharing of experience and coordinates inputs to the policy process.

Various risk-sharing approaches are being implemented to strengthen climate change adaptation strategies, including disaster management, co-operative water resource management, and poverty alleviation, trans boundary co-operation by sectors such as Health, Agriculture, Water, Energy and Security. South Africa is still vulnerable to climate change and variability because of its limited adaptive capacity as a result of, among others, widespread poverty, and dependence on rain fed-agriculture, recurrent drought, inequitable land distribution and HIV/AIDS. Second National Communication published in November provides the latest scientific understanding of climate impacts and vulnerability whilst the green paper on climate change presents policy options including adaptation.

An aerial view of greater Cape Town, shot by Simisa, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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