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Better governance & planning needed to avoid full water crisis

Wits’s Coleen Vogel said the current El Nino cycle has opened a can of worms for South Africa.

A school girl tries to collect water from a dry puddle in Nongoma, in KwaZulu-Natal, which has been badly affected by the recent drought. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As municipalities around the country try to regulate the looming effects of climate change on water supplies, calls have been made for better governance and effective planning to avoid a complete crisis.

Climate change experts held a briefing yesterday on the current and future effects of the El Nino system.

So far, five provinces have been declared disaster areas, a move that has seen government setting aside millions of rands to help farmers and households.

Heatwaves are also seeing reservoirs in some municipalities taking strain.

Wits University's Coleen Vogel said the current intense El Nino cycle has opened a can of worms for South Africa.

"it's showing us where our infrastructure is and may be lacking, so maybe our pipes were designed many years ago for a different configuration of people."

She said although government insists some provinces are not disaster stricken intensive planning is still needed.

With more cycles of the harsher super El Nino patterns expected, members of the public have also been urged to support the efforts of scientists and government.

Meanwhile, the South African Weather Service said the latest rain doesn't signal a break in South Africa's drought.

The southern oscillation pattern has seen below average rainfall that's led to five provinces being declared disaster areas.

Chairperson of the South African Weather Service Mnikeli Ndabambi said yesterday's rain isn't cause for celebration.

"You need it to fall over a period of time so it can fill up the rivers and dams."

He said even in the current dry spell some rainfall is still expected.

"When we say we are in the dry period it does not mean we are not getting some rainfall. Some will be localised and some will cause flooding."

Experts say South Africa needs an average of 100 millilitres of rain over a 10-day period to end the drought.

Earlier this month, as South African farmers look to new types of seeds and different methods of irrigation amid the current drought, AgriSA said the country is drought-stricken and should brace for lesser rainfall in the coming years.

This is South Africa's worst drought in 30 years and is only forecast to end around autumn next year.

AgriSA advisor Kosie van Zyl said South African f armers must use materials and processes suitable to country's climate.

"There are some of these varieties that need lesser water and South Africa is drought-stricken country so we must actually cut our cloths according to size of the material we have; GMO is one of the matters they can use and they use it quite a lot."