A drought-affected region is shown in George in the Western Cape.  Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A drought-affected region is shown in George in the Western Cape. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Drought-hit Western Cape residents can expect 20% less average rainfall by the middle of the century. The desiccation of the province will be accelerated by higher temperatures‚ says Colin Deiner‚ chief director of the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre.

Speaking to TMG Digital a day after he briefed a water indaba attended by provincial premier Helen Zille and Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane‚ Deiner said the next two years pose an urgent problem: "It’s gradually happening: we have seen it this year‚ with a lot less rain. The guys that are experts ... are making these predictions."

Between now and 2050, the province needs to invest in infrastructure to ensure it loses less water "in the system". "We have taken the fact that we have had fairly good [rainfall] for granted for many years‚" Deiner said.

The Western Cape needs to learn from drier countries how they cope when it comes to water and farming. "The work we do now must be focused on how to achieve what we achieve now — with less water‚" he said.

Dr Peter Johnston‚ a climate scientist at the University of Cape Town‚ estimates 20% less rainfall by 2050. "We expect the temperatures to increase by between 1.8°C and 2°C‚ and all the models [of prediction] we have agree on this ... provided the current situation with greenhouse gas stays the same‚" he said. "If their production starts to decrease‚ then it might be slightly less — but not much."

Johnston said there was consensus about the decrease in rainfall and the fact that most of it would come late in winter.

TMG Digital

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