More climate education needed: Minister

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretoria - More still needed to be done to educate communities about the dangers of the swinging climate patterns which continue to wreak havoc in many countries, Deputy Minister of Water Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi said on Wednesday. 

"Weather and climate have a direct impact on our lives and influence our decisions every day. Over the past summer, South Africa has experienced severe weather which has led to many miseries," she said. 

Mabudafhasi was addressing scientists and members of the SA Weather Service at an event to mark the World Meteorological Day in Pretoria. It focused on how South Africa can best use the latest technology to mitigate the devastating impacts of severe weather conditions. 

While many people often "educated" themselves about weather through watching television and reading newspapers, often the warning signs were not enough to prevent the damages that accompany severe weather. 

Mabudafhasi pointed out that the floods that occurred during the December-February period in most parts of the country had caused much damage to property while thousands of people were left homeless and displaced. 

"One of the most disturbing weather hazards is lightning, the impact of which can be reduced if communities take precautionary measures when severe weather approaches," she said.

The number of deaths seen in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal remained alarming and more needed to be done to educate people about the dangers of lightning. 

"I want to appeal to all present here today to really spread the word that lightning is dangerous and that one must take proper precautions...the golden rule would be to seek shelter when clouds build up and thunderstorms start," she added.

According to SA Weather Services CEO Linda Makhuleni the organisation had been embarking on educational programmes across the country in a bid to familiarise people with different weather patterns. "Our aim is to ensure that when people see these warnings on TV they know what they mean and therefore know how to act and what to do so we have been going out and still appealing to people to do the right thing," Makhuleni said.

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