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‘SA landscape will change drastically due to climate change’

Minister Edna Molewa says adaptive interventions are needed to ensure food & water security in the future.

FILE: The minister says South Africa will head to the Cop 21 conference next year hoping to ensure governments and companies are held liable for worsening carbon emissions. Picture: freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Environmental Affairs says the country's landscape will change dramatically over the next few years as the effects of climate change take hold on South Africa.

Minister Edna Molewa says 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 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.

"In the last decade there has been sulphur a growth, we shouldn't stop development but we should actually mitigates the climate effect."

She says adaptive interventions are now needed to ensure food and water security in the future.

"For instance introducing technology that take us to renewables, so yes out of it to a greater extent the shortage we are seeing in South Africa is the effect of climate change."

The minister says South Africa will head to the Cop 21 conference next year hoping to ensure governments and companies are held liable for worsening carbon emissions.

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 which has led to billions of rands 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."

OVER R300 MILLION SET ASIDE FOR DROUGHT DISASTER ZONES

Earlier today, Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the country should start using more groundwater.

Several provinces are in the grips of a severe drought with the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal being declared disaster areas.

Mokonyane said less than 30 percent of the groundwater currently available was being utilised.

"South Africa, over time, has undermined the value of groundwater, and what we definitely need to do is to use science information that shows that there is still an opportunity to explore groundwater."

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.

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