Africa’s Freshwater is Under Threat
A comprehensive study entitled ‘Fresh Water Under Threat, Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater Resources to Environmental Change, Africa’ was launched on 10 November 2009 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, as part of the activities of the 2nd Africa Water Week. A comprehensive study done by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Water Research Commission (WRC), was handed over to the South African Department of Water Affairs (DWA).
This comprehensive study covers the vulnerability that relates to natural and human phenomena, inter alia, climate change variability, pollution, population growth, competition for water, data availability and equality and knowledge gaps. Africa’s ecosystems are already at high risk, threatening the livelihoods of many of the poor who are least capable of adapting to environmental change. By using the book as a tool for guidance, governments, policy- and decision-makers at various levels will gain insights on critical climate change issues and how they could be mitigated.
During the book launch Dr Salif Diop, UNEP representative, thanked the WRC for the job well done. ‘Africa has proper management to adapt well on climate change’ says Dr Rivka Kfir, Chief Executive Officer at the WRC.
Mr Cornelius Ruiters, Deputy Director –General Water Resources Infrastructure received the book on behalf of DWA. ‘The book is important for the continent, the collaborative effort by WRC and UNEP as partners is welcomed. Through research the WRC understands the needs of the continent and creates a platform for scientists to share and understand knowledge sharing’ he says.
‘Africa has been recognised by the International Panel of Climate Change as being the continent that is the most vulnerable to climate change’ says Dr Salif Diop,Africa needs to re-look at how to manage the challenges posed by climate change. Many water resources in African countries are already facing overuse, pollution and degradation. With larger parts of the continent living in poverty there is high exposure to risks related to water such as floods, droughts, poor water quality and increasing water scarcity. ‘Africa has been facing increasing water-related challenges such as declining water quality, lowered groundwater, more or less rainfall, and changed timing of rainfall’, said climate change experts who met in Pretoria from 4-6 November 2009.
According to the new report climate change will profoundly accelerate the rate of change, affecting the ability of people and societies to respond timeously. The rate of change is compounded by uncertainty of impacts of climate change. Various predictions on climate change impact have been given by various models, but with no localised impacts, which may differ from the generalised picture. Understanding climate change trends will assist in taking necessary precautions.
‘Resilience must be built at the household level, community level, and transboundary or regional level’ said Dr Salif Diop, leading the discussions. The study emphasises key risks associated with climate change as being the size of the population that will be affected, the vulnerability of the affected population, and the lack of adaptive institutional capacity to manage impacts. Read further
Contact Chris Moseki
Research Manager : Water Resources Management
Tel: 012330 9030