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Glimpses of potential risk assessment: comparative perspectives on climate change in two South African localities
[ Johann Tempelhoff ] - Research Niche for the Cultural Dynamics of Water (CuDyWat), North-West University, South Africa
In a research project conducted on a public awareness of the potential implications of climate change in two distinctly different regions of South Africa, i.e. the vicinity of George, situated in one of the high rainfall regions, and Upington, situated in the semi-arid Kalahari region, were asked if they experienced climate change in their immediate environments. Working from notes taken during oral interviews and local knowledge it became evident that resident in the more arid parts of South Africa’s Kalahari were more aware of potential indications of climate change than the residents in the wetter parts of the Southern Cape Coastal region. People resident, closer to the sea, were more sensitive to potential incidents of disaster, as a result of climate change.In the dry western region of South Africa it was the livestock farmers who relied more specifically on the traditional knowledge of signs in nature, that pointed to rain, or drought, or potential floods, whereas the agriculturalists who relied on the managed water source of the Orange River tended to be less concerned with the immediate signs of nature. They tended to be aware that conditions, upstream of the river could change as a result of climate change and increased human demands. The agriculturalists, clearly intent on specific water-using programmes were also less inclined than livestock farmers to resort to self-management strategies aimed at protecting their animals and their households. The conclusion that can be drawn from this work is that in traditionally hot arid regions people are inclined to work towards developing a resilient attitude towards drier and hotter climatic conditions, whilst people in wetter coastal conditions, exposed to more potential natural disasters, are more inclined to see trends of imminent climate change than people living in sheltered inland regions with high rainfall conditions.In the general recommendations of the report experts in disaster management suggested the appropriate steps need to be taken at the local level to introduce measures aimed at effectively responding to climate change in the future.
Disaster risk management, Northern Cape, Southern Cape, climate change, oral information, historical perspectives on climate change