Rav­aging ef­fects of cli­mate change al­ready show­ing

‘Take it se­ri­ously or suf­fer con­se­quences’ How you can make a dif­fer­ence

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

PIC­TURE this: parched, cracked earth, star­va­tion, limited ac­cess to water and even­tu­ally death.

This is a re­al­ity if South Africans don’t take cli­mate change se­ri­ously.

This crisis is al­ready on the coun­try’s doorstep, with Malawi, Mozam­bique, Le­sotho, Zim­babwe, Namibia, Mada­gas­car, An­gola and Swazi­land hav­ing been de­clared na­tional emer­gen­cies due to con­tin­ued drought and failed crop pro­duc­tion.

At the same time Botswana, South Africa’s largest bor­der­ing coun­try, is also sit­ting on the brink of dis­as­ter.

All in all, 50 mil­lion peo­ple across the African con­ti­nent could face star­va­tion if crops fail again.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Euro­pean Union, “the im­pacts of cli­mate change are go­ing to in­ten­sify in the com­ing decades, thus lead­ing to de­creas­ing water qual­ity and the avail­abil­ity of water re­sources in some re­gions”.

Last week, com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ist at the Depart­ment of Water and San­i­ta­tion Andile Tshona em­pha­sised that the ef­fects of cli­mate change in our en­vi­ron­ment were dire and, if left unat­tended, “we as the peo­ple could face a whole lot of ex­tremes such as un­re­lent­ing droughts, floods and heat waves which have un­prece­dented con­se­quences”.

If South Africa is go­ing to com­bat this, rig­or­ous ef­forts are needed from all gov­ern­ments, ex­perts, NGOs and the busi­ness com­mu­nity to work to­gether and come up with in­no­va­tive ways to save the fu­ture.

“In 2011, the cabi­net ap­proved the Na­tional Cli­mate Change Re­sponse White Paper (NCCR), which sets out the over­all na­tional gov­ern­ment re­sponse to the chal­lenges of cli­mate change,” Tshona ex­plained.

He said the NCCR White Paper recog­nises water as one of a num­ber of sec­tors that need im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, “along with health, agri­cul­ture, forestry, bio­di­ver­sity and hu­man set­tle­ments, and it also re­quired all gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to re­view their poli­cies in as far as cli­mate change is con­cerned”.

Sub­se­quently, the Depart­ment of Water and San­i­ta­tion de­vel­oped and re­cently ap­proved a Water and San­i­ta­tion Sec­tor Pol­icy Po­si­tion on Cli­mate Change, in line with the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Cli­mate Change, which in­cludes an adap­ta­tion strat­egy for the water sec­tor, na­tional water re­source strat­egy and the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.

The aim is to pro­vide a pol­icy po­si­tion of the water and san­i­ta­tion sec­tor on cli­mate change and ex­am­ine the sta­tus quo of water re­sources in South Africa, as well as the ad­di­tional di­men­sion that cli­mate change adds to var­i­ous as­pects of man­ag­ing water in the coun­try.

In ad­di­tion, Tshona said the pol­icy fur­ther out­lines strate­gic ac­tions to ad­dress the im­pact on water caused by cli­mate change, namely water gov­er­nance, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and water management.

“The South African gov­ern­ment wants to en­sure that all ex­ist­ing in­stru­ments in the water and san­i­ta­tion sec­tor are in line with the re­quire­ments of cli­mate change adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion, and that ex­ist­ing sec­tor poli­cies nei­ther con­flict with nor ham­per adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion in other sec­tors,” he said.

Achiev­ing cli­mate change-re­silient de­vel­op­ment re­quires in­te­gra­tion of cli­mate change into gov­ern­ment plan­ning, which needed to in­volve all sec­tors of so­ci­ety.

“De­vel­op­ing cli­mate re­silience re­quires a change in be­hav­iour and con­scious­ness of var­i­ous adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies by all stake­hold­ers within the sec­tor.

“It’s im­por­tant to col­lab­o­rate with sec­tor stake­hold­ers to en­sure that all water in­sti­tu­tions and water users, in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ties, un­der­stand the water-re­lated cli­mate change is­sues and how to re­spond to them,” Tshona said.

As cli­mate change con­tin­ues to im­pact water avail­abil­ity, it was likely to have neg­a­tive ef­fects on the peo­ple, ecosys­tems and the econ­omy.

“As a re­sult, cli­mate change poses sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional risks for water se­cu­rity, which has knock-on ef­fects on those sec­tors highly re­liant on water, such as agri­cul­ture, elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion as well as some min­ing and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties,” he em­pha­sised.

The gov­ern­ment’s aim is to cre­ate an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment whereby gov­ern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety col­lec­tively re­spond to the eco­nomic and so­cial changes nec­es­sary for cli­mate-re­silient de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation, pro­vid­ing for eco­nomic and so­cial up­lift­ment.

“Water is such a pre­cious re­source that we can­not live with­out and it is ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect it,” Tshona added. THE Depart­ment of Water and San­i­ta­tion has sug­gested some ways to curb cli­mate change.

Re­duce en­ergy use and adopt en­ergy-sav­ing habits. Change the way we think about trans­porta­tion: walk or cy­cle when­ever pos­si­ble. In­su­late our homes. Make ev­ery drop count and fix leak­ing taps. Cool wash and hang to dry. Use only en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances.

Switch to “green power” such as so­lar power.

Re­cy­cle. – Ilanit Chernick

SCORCHED EARTH: The re­mains of a cow lie on a farm near Vorster­shoop in the Molopo re­gion of Limpopo in this file pic­ture. The farmer had to sell 15 per­cent of his cat­tle be­cause of the drought and then sold off 45 per­cent more due to a short­age of graz­ing.

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