CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER RESOURCES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA: Studies on Scenarios, Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation
Report No. 1430/1/05




A focus on potential impacts of climate change on the water sector of southern Africa (in the context of this report, made up of the Republic of South Africa together with Lesotho and Swaziland) was triggered by a series of activities and events in the first three years of the new millennium which included the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports in 2001, the third World Water Forum, as well as active South African participation in the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Dialogue on Water and Climate, among others.  Additionally, there was the realisation that perturbations in climate parameters, particularly of rainfall, were largely amplified by the hydrological system and that if climate changes were to manifest themselves in the manner which international science was predicting, it would add a further layer of concern to the management of southern Africa’s already high risk and stressed water sector, with potential implications to the entire region’s socio-economic well-being, but particularly that of the poor.

These concerns culminated in the Water Research Commission’s soliciting a two-year research project in mid-2002 titled

    “Climate Change and Water Resources in South Africa:  Potential Impacts of
                Climate Change and Mitigation Strategies”

The project was awarded to a consortium of four South African universities, viz. KwaZulu-Natal (lead organisation), Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Pretoria, within each of which specialist expertise and international experience existed in one or more of climate scenario development, impacts modelling and/or the human dimension and climate change.


This research project set out with five main objectives, some of them with sub-objectives.  These are listed below with, in each case, a short reference to indicate in which chapter(s) of the project report the objective/sub-objective was addressed.
All objectives set out at the commencement of the project, plus some additional ones, have been met and are reported upon, setting the scene for addressing more practical issues on how to cope with, legislate for and adapt to, issues related to climate change in the southern African water sector.


The outcome of this project is this Report titled

    “Climate Change and Water Resources in Southern Africa:  Studies on Scenarios,
Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation”.

The Report of 470 pages has been written as 29 chapters in 9 sections which reflect the major objectives of this study. The sections are as follows:

The various chapters, which are of different lengths and at different technical/conceptual levels, are presented as “independently interdependent” entities, with each chapter standing on its own, but forming an important component “link” in the “chain” that makes up the entity of this project. With each chapter “standing on its own”, it goes without saying that certain issues are covered in more than one chapter.