Climate change conflict in Africa a concern says SA Minister

By John Parnell

Conflict in Africa as a result of climate change-related resource pressures can be avoided with better resource management, according to Rejoice Mabudafhasi, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Water & Environmental Affairs.

Climate factors have been cited as reasons for several conflicts over the past few years, often driven by warmer conditions affecting food crops. Mabudafhasi told RTCC that while rises in sub-Saharan temperatures were now inevitable, better planning systems could be put in place to cope with the consequences.

“We have to conserve our ecosystems and natural resources,” she said. “People migrate to follow the resources and this can often create conflict”, referring to clashes over farm and grazing territory as climate change and land degradation take hold.

“We must find ways to ensure that we can produce food. We know that climate change and land degradation means extreme rains will just wash away all the fertile soil. We are also seeing extreme heat drying up our rivers,” she said, adding that there are measures to reduce the impact of climate change on key natural resources.

“In South Africa we have a number of programmes such as water harvesting, so that when rivers are in flood, we can harvest that rain rather than allowing it to flow back into the oceans. Individual households can conserve water in the rainy season with underground storage tanks too,” she added.

“Each and every individual must know how to conserve water, how to make sure water is still there for the generations to come. We’re encouraging people not to see one drop and think it’s not a lot, after a month it is.”

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