Communities learn about severe weather conditions

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pretoria – Communities in the Vhembe district municipality today gathered at the Thohoyandou town hall to learn more about severe weather conditions.

Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi led the campaign, accompanied by representatives from the South African Weather Service.

The deputy minister kicked off the road show by visiting the Maluleke, Ramudzuli and Makhubele families in Mphego village. They were left destitute by the catastrophic flooding which recently swept bridges, damaged properties and in instances, caused deaths and injuries in Vhembe.

“Over the past years, South Africa has experienced an increase in severe weather such as flooding, lightning, thunderstorms, tornadoes and in some areas, excessive and unbearable heat, which caused damage to property and infrastructure as well as several incidences of loss of life.

“The climate records of the South African Weather Service show a growing trend in extreme weather events,” Mabudafhasi said.

During the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban in 2011, experts again confirmed their predictions that extreme weather events were expected to continue to increase with time.

“We therefore need to be able to adapt where these weather hazards are experienced,” said Mabudafhasi.

Since government has elevated and prioritised warnings around weather related hazards, the South African Weather Service has reviewed its early warning system in collaboration with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Several steps were taken to put infrastructure in place to ensure better disaster preparedness.

However, early warning systems are only effective when all role players are integrated.

“We cannot prevent hazardous weather from happening, but we can take steps to prevent them from becoming disasters, or at least lessen the impact of these disasters. Members of the public need to take note of the daily weather forecasts and take steps for their safety when severe weather approaches,” Mabudafhasi said.

The severe weather road show will be rolled out in different provinces that were recently hit by weather disasters and also in areas that are forecast to be prone to excessive weather, which could lead to disaster. –