All must deal with drought

2017-02-01 06:01

What is our role, ordinary folks, in the midst of this dilemma of severe drought in South Africa?

“I don’t know if this is a curse or what. We are suffering huge losses as tillers of the soil. I don’t know if it is still worth pursuing agricultural activities. Rainfall has been in short supply for a long time,” lamented a farmer recently.

Many South African farmers are sharing the sentiment, as the country battles severe drought.

Prolonged absence of precipitation – rain or snow – consequently leads to an acute shortage of water.

Drought is a problem that occurs over large parts of South Africa, crippling all parts of the economy.

Meteorologists often attri-
bute droughts to the El Niño phenomenon, a natural event in the equatorial region which causes temporary changes in the world climate:

“Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures occur in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. When this happens, severe climatic disturbances occur in South America, India and Southern Africa.

“In South America, it brings heavy rainfall and in South Eastern Asia and Southern Africa, it is associated with the severe droughts presently experienced in the Free State and South Africa as a whole.

“The El Niño climate phenomenon has run reservoirs and dams dry, forcing stringent restrictions to save the little water the country has left.” (Mail & Guardian, October, 2016).

Humankind must shoulder the bulk of the blame for the triggering of these discomfor-ting temperature anomalies that we are confronted with.

Global warming, though not primarily the cause of El Niño conditions (which are believed to have been around for thousands of years, if not millions), have been found to enhance the event.

There is some evidence that El Niño has become more frequent and intense in recent years as a result of global warming. The burning of fossil fuels and air pollution have resulted in the warming of the atmosphere and contributed to the abnormal increase in world temperatures.

The industrial revolution has greatly benefited the econo-mic well-being of the world, but at the expense of ideal temperature conditions. The past few months have been much hotter than the long term average.

The rain relief that has come during October and November has unfortunately been largely through devastating thunderstorms accompanied by hail in large parts of the country (including some areas of Bloemfontein) that left disaster in its wake.

The national government and municipalities must be lauded for the initiatives they have started to tackle the disaster unfolding before us.

But what is our role, ordinary folks, in the midst of this dilemma?

Responsible citizenry is what is needed, adhering to water restriction regulations imposed by our municipalities regarding watering gardens, washing cars, and so on.

Minimise water wastage by ensuring at all times that taps are firmly closed after use and report leakage of pipes in our surroundings.

And then ask for divine intervention.

  • Gaseitsiwe Senoge is deputy chief education specialist at the Motheo TVET College. He writes in his personal capacity.


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