Photo taken on July 21, 2015 shows exposed riverbed in Shanzuizi Village of northeast China's Liaoning Province. The lingering drought in Liaoning has resulted in about 178,200 people lack of drinking water and has affected about 1.15 million hectares of crops. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
Photo taken on July 21, 2015 shows exposed riverbed in Shanzuizi Village of northeast China's Liaoning Province. The lingering drought in Liaoning has resulted in about 178,200 people lack of drinking water and has affected about 1.15 million hectares of crops. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Weather forecasters are predicting a record dry season, with water restrictions already in force in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Francois Engelbrecht, a researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said the outlook of the coming rain season is not positive, indicating that the drought would continue.

“Usually when we have El Nino events it is associated with below normal rainfall. In some cases it is associated with severe drought,” Engelbrecht said in a debate on El Nino.

El Nino is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central pacific that occurs every few years. It can bring floods to some regions but in Southern Africa it always bring drought, increases the number of heat wave days and reduces soil moisture.

Engelbrecht said the drought will cause dire consequences to the country’s food security, considering that in the last two seasons South Africa did not receive adequate rains.

He said, “If we are going to have a third season of below normal rainfall levels, there would be negative consequences for many of the crops that we grow.”

Engelbecht added that these El Nino events will also put the country’s water reservoirs in danger.

“It is a combination of below normal rainfall and severe temperature that will lead to higher evaporation causing our reservoirs to lose a lot of water,” said Engelbrecht.

He said some provinces are severely affected by the drought.

KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape provinces are the worst affected. Experts warn that food prices will go up as a result.

“The maize crop is down from 14.25 million tonnes last year to an estimated 9.84 million tonnes this year,” said John Purchase, Chief Executive Officer at the Agricultural Business Chamber.
This means the country may have to import food to avert shortages.

Meanwhile some villages in KwaZulu-Natal have lost hundreds of cattle as a result of the drought. Some farmers have also had to destroy their entire crop as a result of the devastating dry spells.

Engelbrecht said the country should start using water sparingly to avert water shortages as a result of this drought.

“With the expectation that the summer rain is going to be below normal, water restriction is certainly a responsible thing to start considering,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government has also moved in to find solutions to the drought crisis. It has already declared KwaZulu-Natal Province as a disaster area. This means that the province will get assistance from the national government in averting hunger amongst residents.

Reports indicate that the country’s water woes are reaching breaking point, with Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane set to address the crisis on Sunday. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.