News this week centres on weather, in all its forms and manifestations.
The City of Cape Town is considering additional plans to intensify level 3 water restrictions, amid a bid to declare the City an emergency disaster area.
Earlier, Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille, announced plans to write to the environmental affairs MEC to declare Cape Town an emergency disaster area.
Briefing media and other parties, De Lille said the City is in a crisis, with the average dam levels now at 33%.
Dr Kevin Winter of the Future Water Institute was at the briefing.
Short and medium term plans have so far helped reduce water consumption in the city – decreasing water consumption by 27%.
Further water restrictions will likely in the near future include no irrigation and no topping up of swimming pools.
Winter says he is impressed by the comprehensive approach that the city has taken in addressing the issue.
It brought home two realities – the water crisis and the intent of the City to write to Minister Anton Bredell to declare Cape Town a disaster.
“The other wake-up call is the recognition that we now need to be much more proactive in the way in which we are integrating our water sources and the different sources that we need to call on in the near future.
There is still no clarity whether there is funding to continue with the implementation of the Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifer scheme between 2022 and 2026.
I would hope to see at some stage – if we are bringing it forward – what those timelines and planning are all about because it’s certainly not in any City budget that I have seen so far,” said Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute researcher.
Winter says the rainfall predictions remain uncertain, but control of water use needs to be tightened.
De Lille is hoping national government will free funds to enable the municipality to implement new water supply schemes.
Globetrotting surfing pro Dion Agius was touring in Mozambique earlier this month, and so was Cyclone Dineo, smashing Mozambique and Zimbabwe, flooding huge swaths of both countries. Over 100,000 people were displaced in Mozambique, with dozens of homes destroyed and at least seven people killed.
The storm caught Agius by surprise, and as he waited out the storm’s passing, he recorded his lodging being ripped apart by 180 km/hr winds. He was so moved by the destruction he saw the next day that he put together a short film to help spread the word that the locals need help.
Very little outside media is reporting on the disaster. Some South African news agencies as well as Al Jazeera have done stories but word doesn’t seem to be spreading to the rest of the world.
Agius is drawing people’s attention to a GoFundMe campaign, if they’re inclined and have the means to help these people rebuild.
And, in Zimbabwe, floods have killed 246 people and left nearly 2,000 homeless since December, government officials said.
Aljazeera News reports that Saviour Kasukuwere, minister of local government, declared a national disaster and announced the death toll on Thursday, saying 128 people have been injured in the floods.
The Southern African country has appealed to international donors for $100m to help those affected by the floods, which have washed away several bridges and roads and cut off some communities from surrounding areas.
“There is an inadequate supply of tents, foodstuffs and drugs for the affected people,” Kasukuwere told The Herald newspaper. “There is a need for blankets and clothing for the affected families as they are at risk of contracting pneumonia and acute respiratory infections.”
Unable to get balance of payment support from foreign lenders due to unpaid arrears, and with more than 90 percent of its national budget going to salaries, Zimbabwe’s public infrastructure has been crumbling for more than a decade.
“After working hard responding to the effects of drought, the same people are now suffering because of excessive floods,” Bishow Parajuli, of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), told The Herald.
Transport Minister Joram Gumbo told reporters on Wednesday that in the southern parts of the country, some sections of highways and bridges were completely washed away following the latest heavy rainfall.
Gumbo said the government would raise $100m to repair the country’s infrastructure. The national road agency would chip in with half of the money, which it would borrow from local banks, he said.
“The state of our roads has further deteriorated to the extent that some sections of the national road network have become impassable,” Gumbo said.
And, if that isn’t enough, there is another tropical storm lurking on the far side of Madagascar, this one called Enawo, forecast to strike Madagascar as an intense tropical cyclone at about 06:00 UTC on Tuesday 7 March. Enawo is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 203 km/h. Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.
According to the Saffir-Simpson damage scale, the potential property damage and flooding from a storm of Enawo’s strength (category 3) at landfall includes: storm surge generally 2.7-3.7 metres (9-12 feet) above normal; some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings; damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down; mobile homes and poorly constructed signs destroyed; and low-lying escape routes cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the centre of the storm. Flooding near the coast may destroy smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain may be flooded inland for 13 km or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences within several blocks of the shoreline may be required. There is also the potential for flooding further inland due to heavy rain.
At this stage, it looks as though Enawo will remain East of Madagascar, so South Africa should be safe, but weather-watchers on our Eastern coastline are advised to remain vigilant.
Thank you to the national and international news agencies for these news items.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.