Gauteng and NW Province

Tshwane – Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Recent increases in extreme events which have included hail, floods, droughts and heat waves have shown that the City of Tshwane is experiencing the impacts of climate changes and climate variability. These have been costly to the City, both in terms of human and financial resources. Climate change over Tshwane is thus a reality.

The City of Tshwane is also responsible for infrastructure and service delivery business areas that are sensitive to climate change. It is thus important to understand the long-term consequences of decisions for communities and sectors with the City of Tshwane.

The City will be expected to cope with the ongoing variability in the Climate System as well as changes that are expected to occur in the future. This is in line with the first outcome of Vision 2055 – towards a “resilient and resource-efficient city with the ability to absorb shocks and changes within the global context”, with the first decade focusing on continued provision of basic services, and the development of enabling policies to achieve the long term outcomes.

Research continues to show that climate change and climate variability are some of the greatest threats to sustainable development. It is therefore crucial that actions aimed at adaptation and mitigation is developed to anticipate risks and increase resilience.

Over the last 50 years, temperatures have been rising at a rate of about 2 degrees Celsius per century. Today’s winters in Tshwane are already about 2 degrees Celsius warmer than the winters of a century ago. Drastic rises in temperature are projected for Tshwane under low mitigation (high emission) scenarios during the 21st century.

An increase of more than 5 degrees Celsius (compared to present day climate) in annual average temperature is plausible by the end of the century. Mid-century increases are plausible to be in order of 3 degrees Celsius. Projections also indicate that it is plausible for the Tshwane region to become generally drier under climate change.

Projections indicate that the following extreme weather events are likely to increase frequency over Tshwane :

–          intense thunderstorms,

–          heat waves,

–          high fire danger and

–          dry spells

The annual number of days with frost is likely to decrease over Tshwane in a changing climate as the region becomes warmer, These changes in weather and climate often negatively affect :

–          Infrastructure

–          Biodiversity

–          Fresh water ecosystems

–          Human health and

–          Social economic development.

It is anticipated for example that increases in temperature and reduced rainfall is likely to result in water stress for crops and animals. This is also likely to affect the hydrological cycle due to increased evaporation and evapotranspiration and the groundwater sources are also likely to be affected though more research on this still needs to be done (IPSS, 2014). However changes in the hydrological cycle for example affect the quality and quantity of water available which can strain social and economic activities which need water. It is therefore important to highlight this relationship between climate change and development such that as local governments strive for sustainable development they should also try to build their resilience, reduce risk and climate proof their infrastructure.

Some of the socio-economic risks include :

–          Flooding in formal and informal settlements situated below flood lines (Mamelodi West, Region 3 and 5)

–          Road closures due to flooding (all regions)

–          Damage to bridges (Region 4)

–          Damage to roofs, cars, properties due to hail storms (especially Region 1 and 6)

–          Sink holes Region 4 (Centurion)

–          Challenges experienced by chiefs in tribal areas to address land invasion resulting from loopholes in pieces of current legislation (tribal areas)

–          The health status of the regions, based on available clinic data from 2012, showed that region 1 was the worst off as far as diarrhoea with dehydration and severe malnutrition in children under 5, and the first time visits for a mental disorder (all ages) are concerned. Region 5 had the highest levels of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Environmental risks include :

–          Flooding of parks and recreation areas

–          Biodiversity threats from alien invasive species

–          Clinically threatened, endangered and Vulnerable ecosystems

–          Two biomes at risk: Savannah (north) and grassland (south). These biomes are vulnerable to fires and mostly have vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered ecosystems

–          Soil erosion

–          Surface and groundwater pollution (high water tables)

–          Air pollution

–          Wild fires, especially grassland biomes

27 June 2014


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