Coping with climate change implications for South Africa
Climate change is regarded as one of the greatest challenges and threats to the country’s path towards sustainable and equitable development. It also has potential to pose serious challenges to our water resources, particularly since effects thereof are most likely to be felt through water. To enhance resilience and support adaptation processes, the Water Research Commission (WRC) undertook a project that has culminated in a ground-breaking publication that will have a long-lasting effect on water, science and environmental policies. That publication was launched on 28 March 2013 at Alpine Attitude Hotel in Pretoria.
The book, entitled “Perspectives on Climate Change and the South African Water Sector”, emanates from a project by a University of KwaZulu-Natal-led research consortium over a period of four years. The project aimed at investigating the best water-related climate change information that is currently available and on this basis proposing the future climate response strategies for South Africa.
The research indicates that some areas within South Africa are likely to become ‘winners’ in the projected changes, where new water-related opportunities are likely to arise, while other areas will become ‘losers’ in the sense that more water-related stresses are likely to be experienced in those areas.
According to project leader Prof Roland Schulze from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the projected changes in climate in future may result in even greater irregularities in the availability of water for daily use. Amongst the most vulnerable to suffer the consequences are poor communities, living in low-income houses with limited access to resources: “Over the centuries and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, indigenous knowledge systems have adapted to various ways of collecting and storing water for later use. However, full potential of this water supply has not been fully exploited in South Africa to date. It has been suggested that rain water harvesting (RWH) could be implemented to alleviate the temporal water supply problems and to supplement the conventional water supply systems as demand increasingly grows.”
Mr Chris Moseki, research manager at the WRC, indicated that the research focus will for the next few years markedly be aimed at resilience and adaptive capacity building among communities, while also ensuring improvement in the science component. For instance, current projects are already underway on institutional capacity as well as management of uncertainties in model scenarios.
Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, WRC CEO says, “There is a greater need for water resource managers to act now because adaptation activities take place within people’s daily lives and mostly at a local context. For the country to face adaptive management of climate change a diverse number of players need to start working together and apply networked approaches. If there is no change, no improvement can be achieved, especially when we do business as usual. It is true that our water problems will increase in future under climate change. We all need to decide whether we want to act now or face the crisis at a later stage? We need to ask ourselves whether we want to be part of ‘losers’ or ‘winners’”.
For more information on Climate Change contact: Mr Chris Moseki, WRC Research Manager, Water Resources and Climate Tel : 012 330 0440 Cell: or email firstname.lastname@example.org ; 083 452 6964Copies of the Reports No.1843/2/12 and TT 518/12 can be downloaded from the WRC knowledge Hub or email email@example.com to get hard copies.