Specialising in
Grey Water
and
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Climate change intensifies El Niño and La Niña

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 Aug 2011

The severe drought in the Horn of Africa, which has caused the death of at least 30 000 children and is affecting some 12 million people, especially in Somalia, is a direct consequence of weather phenomena associated with climate change and global warming, environmental scientists say.

The intensification of La Niña will see growing desertification in Africa. Photo UNCCD.

“The present drought in the Horn of Africa has been provoked by El Niño and La Niña phenomena in the Pacific Ocean, which unsettle the normal circulation of warm and cold water and air, and dislocate the humidity conditions across the southern hemisphere,” Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, senior scientist at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK, after its German name), told IPS.

Both phenomena are a part of the southern oscillation climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean every five to seven years. It is characterised by variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific – warming or cooling known as El Niño and La Niña respectively – and a changing air surface pressure in the western Pacific. Continue reading Climate change intensifies El Niño and La Niña

Acacia project to turn the tide on desertification

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 June 2011

An FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] pilot project that has proved a great success in combating desertification is to be rolled out more widely in an attempt to turn African drylands back into fertile land.

The Acacia offers many benefits.

With two thirds of the African continent now classified as desert or drylands and desertification affecting a quarter of the world’s population, the breakthrough has the potential to transform the lives of vulnerable populations.  In operation since 2004, the Acacia project has involved the planting and managing of Acacia forests in arid lands helping combat desertification while providing socio-economic benefits to local communities.

Fatou Seye, her husband and their six children live in the village of Thiékene Ndiaye in Senegal’s drylands. Now 50 years old, Fatou remembers how different the land looked during her own childhood. “When I was young, the land was so much greener with a much greater diversity of plant species,” she recalls.

Here, as in much of the Sahel – the 5000-kilometre belt of land that divides the Sahara desert from the rest of Africa – vegetation has been disappearing. Continue reading Acacia project to turn the tide on desertification

Forests are essential to water cycle

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 March 2011

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population may experience water-stress conditions. Forests capture and store water and can play an important role in providing drinking water for millions of people in the world’s mega-cities. Given this fact, the members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), international organizations involved in forests, call upon countries to pay more attention to forest protection and management for the provision of clean water.

One third of the world's biggest cities draw a portion of their drinking-water from forested areas.

“Forests are part of the natural infrastructure of any country and are essential to the water cycle”, said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director General of the FAO Forestry Department.

“They reduce the effects of floods, prevent soil erosion, regulate the water table and assure a high quality water supply for people, industry and agriculture.”  He was speaking prior to the UN World Water Day which will be celebrated this year on 22 March.

Forests are in most cases an optimal land cover for catchments supplying drinking water. Forest watersheds supply a high proportion of water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.

“The management of water and forests are closely linked and require innovative policy solutions which take into account the cross-cutting nature of these vital resources”, said Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat.  “The International Year of Forests, 2011 provides a unique platform to raise awareness of issues such as the water-soil-forests nexus, which directly affect the quality of people’s lives, their livelihoods and their food security.”

Moreover, forests and trees contribute to the reduction of water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization. Continue reading Forests are essential to water cycle

Desertification and drought affects food security

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 February 2011

Increasing drought and aridity around the world, linked to climate change and land degradation, are becoming a major threat to food security and poverty reduction efforts, according to the United Nations’ anti-desertification chief.

Farmers in Africa’s Sahel region have planted trees on 5 million hectares of degraded land, since 1975

Stepping up investment in restoring degraded land and curbing desertification could work toward solving a wide range of the world’s most pressing problems – climate change, food security, water shortages and the threat of growing conflict and migration, said Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification.

“No one is unaffected by desertification,” he said in an interview with AlertNet. “It is affecting our food security, entrenching people in poverty, increasing our water stress and leading us to lose biodiversity.”

The U.N. desertification convention, a lesser-known cousin of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, aims to curb degradation of dry land around the world and the advance of deserts, a major problem in regions including Africa’s Sahel zone and China.

Since 1950, 1.9 billion hectares (4.7 billion acres) of land around the world has become degraded, a problem that has reduced harvests, contributed to changing rainfall patterns and increased the vulnerability of millions of people, Gnacadja said. Each year, on average, another 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of land a year is lost to the problem, he added. Continue reading Desertification and drought affects food security

Climate: a million deaths a year by 2030

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 December 2010

By 2030, climate change will indirectly cause nearly one million deaths a year and inflict 157 billion dollars in damage, according to estimates presented at UN talks on Friday.

Poor countries will face acute exposure to climate change

The biggest misery will be heaped on more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries, but the United States will pay the highest economic bill, it said.

“In less than 20 years, almost all countries in the world will realise high vulnerability to climate impact as the planet heats up,” the report warned.

The study, compiled by a humanitarian research organisation and climate-vulnerable countries, assessed how 184 nations will be affected in four areas: health, weather disasters, the loss of human habitat through desertification and rising seas, and economic stress.

Those facing “acute” exposure are 54 poor or very poor countries, including India. They will suffer disproportionately to others, although they are least to blame for the man-made greenhouse gases that drive climate change, it said.

“Without corrective actions” a press release accompanying the study said, the world is “headed for nearly one million deaths every single year by 2030.” Continue reading Climate: a million deaths a year by 2030