Siyabu Manona, one of Phuhlisani NPC's directors featured recently in a Daily Maverick article reviewing the severity of the drought in the Western and Eastern Cape. While Cape Town has been capturing the headlines there is a serious crisis gathering increasing momentum in the Eastern Cape. The article written by Marelise van der Merwe quotes Siyabu as follows:
The reality, says Siyabulela Manona, is that provinces like the Eastern and Western Cape cannot think only in terms of short-term drought solutions, because drought is only a symptom of a much larger problem.
Manona told Daily Maverick it was necessary for policy-makers to take a long-term view with regards to drought, and to apply different lenses to rural and urban dwellers.
“The risks are different for city and rural residents,” he said. “Rural residents are very vulnerable to extreme weather conditions in some ways. But city dwellers may be more vulnerable to fires or other, related events. We are not only dealing with one drought. We are dealing with climate change, which is a longer-term problem. It is important to realise that, and to plan our development accordingly, both in urban and rural areas.”
This includes a shift towards subsistence and small-scale farming with more water-sensitive approaches; curriculum changes that include a focus on sustainability; and rethinking urban planning to maximise limited resources. A practical difficulty, he said, is the influence of five-year terms in government, which means there is too little room for meaningful long-term implementation at municipal or provincial level.
Manona told Daily Maverick that the cumulative impact of cold, extreme heat, dry conditions, flooding, drought and other extreme events have had noticeable impacts on those in small villages and rural areas in recent years.
“People are keeping less livestock, they complain about the heat and having little access to water,” he said. “On the positive side, however, there is an increased awareness of the impact of climate change. We must not overlook that. We must work with that.” That being said, he added, one “must not ignore” the impact on cities, either.
“This is not just a drought,” he said. “This is something much bigger than that. Drought is only one part of it. We must start to plan differently, live differently, which is something not everybody is ready to hear.”