The South African landscape will change dramatically over the next few years, as the effects of climate change take hold, said the Department of Environmental Affairs.
“Adaptive interventions are needed to ensure food & water security in the future,” said Minister Edna Molewa.
She added South Africa wants to secure a legally binding agreement on how to adapt to climate change when it goes to the Cop 21 conference in Paris next year. This agreement would hopefully ensure governments and companies are held liable for worsening carbon emissions, and also oblige developing countries to co-operate in food security and water supply.
Molewa says 15 years ago scientists warned about deteriorating weather conditions due to a spike in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
She says adaptive interventions are now needed to ensure food and water security in the future.
“We should actually mitigate the climate effect, for instance introducing technology that takes us to renewables.”
No water restrictions from Vaal Dam until 2019
Meanwhile, the Department of Water Affairs says water restrictions emanating from the Vaal Dam and river system will not worsen until 2019, but the need to find alternative sources and storage facilities remains urgent.
The drought, which has been dubbed El Niño, has led to billions of rand being lost by farmers. The drought is only expected to end in autumn next year.
Deputy director general at the department, Trevor Balzer, says the water restrictions announced by Rand Water will not be tightened in the Vaal region.
“We don’t see at this point in time, based on our projections, that we would have to implement any significant water restrictions from the Vaal River system before 2019.”
R300 million set aside for drought disaster relief
Several provinces are in the grips of a severe drought with the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal being declared disaster areas.
Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the country should start using more groundwater. Mokonyane said less than 30 percent of the groundwater currently available was being utilised.
She said South Africa’s poor water usage habits were finally showing its effects. Mokonyane said the country was facing a crisis by virtue of the fact that it was a water-scarce land.
The minister said small dams have run completely dry in some areas; a situation she said may be the worst since the 1960s.
Over R300 million has been set aside for the implementation of relief strategies.
By Govan Whittles. Source: Eyewitness News