Climate System & Activities

“…At the global scale freshwater resources are not yet scarce, however, the uneven distribution at different scales (among world regions, countries, societal groups) provides multiple sources of tension. Technological progress has allowed the cultivation of deserts and floodplains. However, pushing human activities towards or even beyond the limits of environmental systems has resulted in increased vulnerability to environmental extremes, unsustainable land use patterns even faster than in terrestrial ecosystems. Climate change and concomitant increase of extreme weather events with massive consequences for human populations, economical assets and critical physical infrastructure have exposed weaknesses in current water governance and management systems.”

From Pahl-Worstl, C (2015). Water Governance in the Face of Global Change: From understanding to transformation. Springer.

The local climate is heating up: Research suggests that in South Africa, there has been an increase in mean annual and maximum temperatures. In addition, the frequency of hot extremes has increased, whilst that of cold extremes has decreased between 1962 and 2009 (Kruger & Shongwe 2004, Kruger & Sekele 2013). These projections are equally true more locally for the Olifants Catchment. Increase in frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events: Studies have shown an increase in extreme rainfall in the south-western and eastern parts of South Africa during most of the 20th C (Easterling et al., 2000, Groisman et al., 2005), along with increases in the intensity of high rainfall events in the 1961–1990 period relative to 1931–1960 over much of South Africa. All of this points to an increased flood risk in the Olifants Catchment. The rainfall season has shifted and dry spells are more common: Seasonal shifts have been observed in Limpopo with a later onset of seasonal rainfall accompanied by increased dry spells, or a continuous stretch of time without rain, and fewer rain days (Thomas et al., 2007). Consequently, there is an increased risk of drought and reduced rainfall. Consequently, there is an increased risk of floods, drought and heatwaves in the Olifants Catchment. These climatic hazards will impact on water and terrestrial natural resources and will impact both directly and indirectly on human well-being, livelihoods, and economic development. For example, heatwaves can directly impact our health through increased disease risks, and on livelihoods through greater stresses on agricultural production. Increased temperatures and drought can exacerbate poor water quality issues, and water shortages for drinking, food production and industrial development. Floods can affect water quality and increase the risk of water-borne diseases, as well as increase the risk of injury, loss of life, and damage to infrastructure.

General Resources

Catchment Specific Resources

Gbetibouo, G. A., Hassan, R. M., & Ringler, C. (2010). Modelling farmers’ adaptation strategies for climate change and variability: The case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa. Agrekon, 49(2), 217-234.

Tools and Ideas

(fieldwork packs/resources)

Oettle, N; Koelle, B; Law, S; Parring, S; Schmiedel, U; Archer van Garderen, E; Bekele, T (2014) Participatory Adaptation Handbook- A practitioner’s guide for facilitating people centred adaptation , doi:10.7809/book.001.

Koelle, B; Oettle, N; Parring, S (2014) Experiential Learning for Adaptation – Facilitation Cards.

For more resources related to climate change adaptation workshops, see