Johannesburg - The Government Communication and Information System, together with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), as well as South African Local Government Association, held a webinar today to dwell on the impact of climate change and changing weather patterns in society.
DFFE facilitator Albi Modise said in his opening remarks that the impact of climate change is likely to be felt at the local government level because that is where citizens mostly engage with the government.
"Whether it's on roads, houses, stormwater or drainage systems. It is important, when a conversation of this particular nature takes place, that local government forms part of that conversation," he said.
He also said, globally, climate change has become a topical issue and the severe weather patterns that they have seen globally have become a significant threat to their social life, the economy of the world, and the environment itself. Modise added that it poses a risk that developing countries can least afford.
“You've seen that we've had in certain experiences in the Northwest province and recent experiences as well in the Eastern Cape,” he mentioned.
However, the Disaster Risk Management from the South African Weather Service (SAWS) Puseletso Mofokeng said as the South African Weather Service, their contribution to the public is to give them the first two days of forecast.
“We do have a clause that indicates that we have to give the public the first two days. It's a must, whether it is today and tomorrow, day one and two are always a must,” he said.
He said, in that forecast, they look at issues of extreme weather on a very low scale. “We also issue a seven day forecast that runs from the fifth to seventh, and that forecast could be normal or extreme weather conditions. This is more to speed up the communication that you make to the public of South Africa, so that they know what is expected,” he said.
He clarified their communication to the disaster management is to indicate what is going to happen throughout the week, and it also includes the municipalities, “especially the district municipalities, would actually get a communication from us, including the provincial structures in the disaster management would get that communication.”
Furthermore, chief director of Climate Change Adaptation at DFFE Tlou Ramara supported what Mofokeng has already said because of the same challenges they face as the climate changes.
“We have seen in recent times that we are experiencing extreme events that are becoming quite frequent, and this comes in the form of flooding and heat waves, and they also come in the form of drought, which, at some point did grip Cape Town quite strongly, as well as the Eastern Cape in the previous year – they are still trying to get out of the challenges of drought,” he said.
Salga senior adviser for climate change Slindile Maphumolo said this discussion is more focused on the impact of climate change on people, human settlements, and on the vulnerability of people in those human settlements.
She said her presentation will focus on the background of climate change, particularly focusing on human settlements and also the lessons learned from the case of Eastern Cape floods, and the ability of local governments in mitigating climate change in general.