The Committee was briefed by a range of departments and organisations on their implementation of the White Paper on Climate Change. The Department of Environmental Affairs said it would study Long Term Adaptation Scenarios and present these to stakeholders at local, provincial, regional and national level. The department had assigned a Technical Working Group that would conduct a policy gap analysis to ensure that the legislation of various sector departments was aligned with climate change policies.
The Chairperson said that the Departments of Energy and Transport should be included in the list of sectors that were required to adopt new policies and technologies to adapt to the impact of climate change.
Members were concerned that the Adaptation Research Flagship Programme, headed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, would ignore rural communities and focus only on urban areas such as Kirstenbosch and the
The Chairperson explained that the Committee was kick-starting a process to see how departments were dealing with adaptation to climate change. The purpose of the meeting was not to criticise, but rather to get a sense of the progress government was making.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry said the South African agricultural community was faced with severe impacts from climate change. The situation would have far-reaching consequences on livelihoods as a result of its implications on job creation and food security. Many households in SA were vulnerable when it came to sustainable availability of food. The fishing industry was faced with a decline in catches, but it was not clear if this was as a result of over fishing or climate change. The Department of Agriculture was conducting investigations to ascertain the reasons, and also to assess vulnerability of fishing stock. Forests were a long-term economic investment, and climate change could significantly affect them. There was significant risk that the adaptive capacity of forests would be exceeded thereby compromising their ability to provide vital products. As a result of degradation, there could be escalation in the number of foreign species and diseases.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) said rural communities were the worst hit when it came to climate change, as it affected their livelihood. Despite being a new department, DRDLR said it needed to scan its policies to see where it could come with interventions to align policies with climate change responses. There was inadequate planning and decision making that usually negated considerations of climate change.
Challenges the Department of Human Settlements faced included informal settlements that were located in ecologically viable areas. These settlements usually destroyed the flora species. SA settlements were sprawling, and people travelled long distances to work. The emissions that these cars and buses into the atmosphere when people travelled to work needed to be taken into consideration.
The Department of Environmental Affairs said that intensive research had been done on the uses of fire to manage land. The programme had been growing over the years, and was expected to grow even further and thereby provide employment opportunities. Wetland degradation was already a problem and this would be exacerbated by climate change. The Environmental Programmes Branch was best known for its interventions around water quality. The impact would also extend to water quantity. Wetlands were a net base for water quantity. Food security in many of the wetland rural areas would be a challenge, and could be addressed through the programme. The number of jobs that would be created would multiply if the Working for Fire, Working for Wetlands, Working for Energy, Working for Land, and Working for Wildlife programmes were to be implemented successfully. Unless SA dealt with poverty and unemployment, all of the other issues associated with climate change would only become worse.
Members asked about plans to coordinate regional strategies on countering climate change as it pertained to food security. This was critical, as it would reflect on the country's ability to increase the amount of food it accessed from the international market.
The Chairperson said the Department of Environmental Affairs should coordinate a meeting of all government departments in order to substantially breakdown the understanding of what adaptation meant to their respective mandates. Departments should sit down and engage in the next six months. There was a need to get departments working together on defining what exactly their adaptation strategies needed to entail. The adaptation strategies needed to be clear on priorities and budgetary needs, and be more specific on meaning and interventions. These hearings had been useful to see the level of thinking by the departments.
The Chairperson said the developing world should use climate change as a positive stimulus. New policies and technologies should be adopted in order to adapt to the impact of climate change. The adaptation objectives formed part of the mandate of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), but it was important that adaptation goals were also pursued in other department where climate change had an impact.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on Climate Change Adaptation
Mr Tshepo Moremi, Chief Director for Climate Change Adaptation, DEA, said the National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCRP) explained that climate change impacts should be managed through interventions in social, economic and environmental sectors. The list of sectors included: Water; Agriculture; Biodiversity and Ecosystems; Commercial Forestry; and Human Settlements, though the list was not exclusive. The aim of the Long Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) was to anticipate potential impacts of climate change and identify available adaptation response actions. There should be more coherence and synergy between the adaptation strategies of different sectors. Better planning, research and sub-regional assessments should be done using the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas to identify risk areas. In 2012, the DEA planned to focus on developing adaptation strategies for Agriculture, Biodiversity, Water and Health sectors.
The Chairperson asked why it was necessary for the DEA to study adaptation scenarios if these preparation processes were already contained in the White Paper on Climate Change (WPCC). The DEA should explain new, progressive adaptation developments that it planned to achieve.
Ms Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director-General for Climate Change, DEA, said her department was prioritising immediate and urgent action through building on the implementation that already existed. In the WPCC, three of the eight flagship programmes focused explicitly on adaptation. These were the Water Conservation and Demand Management Flagship Programme, the Research Adaptation Flagship Programme and the Extended Public Works Programme. There was explicit work underway in these programmes. Other sectors, such as Agriculture, were still lacking an over-arching planning framework for the implementation of adaptation programmes.
The Chairperson said the DEA’s presentation should not ignore the reality on the ground. The flagship programmes should be integrated so that the long-term strategies would deliver results.
Mr Moremi said there would be stakeholder engagement on the LTAS at local, provincial, regional and national level. The DEA would provide information on the LTAS and receive critical feedback from the public. A Technical Working Group (TWG) would ensure that the stakeholder engagements were comprehensive. Furthermore, the TWG would be responsible for coordinating, guiding and overseeing the technical adaptation work of the various sectors.
The Chairperson asked why the areas of energy and transport were not listed as part of adaptation. These sectors were focused only on mitigation; however, considering they produced 70% of carbon dioxide, it would be short-sighted if they did not also focus on adapting to the impact of climate change.
Mr Moremi agreed with the Chairperson that an adaptive approach was necessary in all sectors. He reiterated that the list of sectors involved was not exclusive, and that other sector departments would be included.
Ms Beaumont said the line between adaptation and mitigation was not always clear. The areas of transport and energy were focused more on mitigation responses such as emission reductions. However, adaptation was more closely linked to sustainable development. For example, in areas vulnerable to floods and heavy rains, the design of future tar road infrastructure would be adapted to take these climatic circumstances into account.
The Chairperson said the developing world felt negatively about mitigation, because many developed countries did not abide to mitigating programmes. It would thus be problematic for
Mr Moremi said the TWG would conduct a policy gap analysis to ensure that the legislation of various sector departments was aligned with climate change policies.
Ms M Wenger (DA) commented on the policy alignment work of TWG. Was the legislation of various sector departments expected to be in line with international norms and standards on climate change, or was it focused more on domestic policies?
Dr Brian Mantlana, Specialist Advisor, DEA, said that adaptation processes were localised. The DEA’s responses to climate change would be based on domestic circumstances and priorities. However, the DEA was also aware of and involved in international adaptation work. The policy alignment process of the TWG would thus strike a balance between considering local circumstances and abiding to global norms and standards on climate change.
The Chairperson reiterated that an ideological mindset change was needed in
South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) on adaptation strategies
Dr Guy Midgley, SANBI Research Programme Leader, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) said the Adaptation Research Flagship Programme (ARFP) was geared towards identifying the costs and requirements of potential adaptation strategies. SANBI was almost complete with the design of the programme, though it was still open to suggestions. A detailed proposal had been submitted for final funding approval. Of the eight key sectors addressed in the proposal, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management sector was the most advanced, while the others still lacked the institutional capacity to deal with issues of adaptation. There was a need to bring all sectors to the same level by creating a more coherent national approach to adaptation. Dr Midgley said the adaptation programme was aimed at developing useful products though the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas - such as guidelines, toolkits, reports and maps – which would be used in the assessment of regional vulnerabilities to climate change.
SANBI planned to hold a workshop on 19 June during which they would get climate change experts to conduct assessments. The workshop would also provide the DEA the opportunity to engage with stakeholders in order to both hear their inputs and provide them with information. The challenge was to coordinate SANBI and the DEA’s role in the workshop within the short time frame. It was important to have an integrated response to adapting to climate change, because all sectors would be affected by future water shortages.
Mr B Holomisa (UDM) asked whether funding for the Adaptation Research Flagship Programme (ARFP) would be allocated for use in rural areas. The programme should not focus only on urban areas such as Kirstenbosch and the
Dr Midgley responded that economic factors were not the essential or supreme element of the AFRP. There was a municipal toolkit in place to ensure that beneficial programmes are rolled out in poorer communities.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked whether the notion of adaptation was being integrated into courses at tertiary education levels. Will academic models and systems be changed so that adaptation would become part of all the various disciplines?
Dr Midgley responded that the new green economy was set to involve adaptation responses. He was optimistic about the synergy between science and practical work. Academics were coming to terms with a multi-disciplinary science and
The Chairperson said the ARFP seemed like a good approach to the issues of adaptation. He agreed with Mr Holomisa’s point, and said that the programme’s mandate should be aligned with the reality of poor, rural areas. This would depend on from where SANBI’s mandate came. Considering all the sector departments of government involved in the adaptation process, what would the hierarchy of authority be, and who would prescribe the mandate of each department?
The Chairperson mentioned that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) was also involved in research on adaptation strategies. He asked how the research practices of the DEA and the DST would be synchronised in order to avoid overlaps and turf battles.
Ms Beaumont responded that the ARFP would bring together the priorities of different sectors. The reality was that mandates and policy directives came from various different departments. It remained a challenge to slowly but surely start to bring all the mandates together in a clearly-defined direction. A possible solution would be for each department to take the initiative of setting up a draft adaptation plan specific to their sector. This would be the first step in a long process of seeking coherence between the various adaptation plans of each department.
Mr Holomisa said SANBI should not only use computers in its research. It should go out to villages in the
The Chairperson said the design of the ARFP should have a particular focus on the vulnerable and the poor. SANBI should try to broaden its research framework to include the needs of all people.
Dr S Huang (ANC) asked how much international funding SANBI was receiving. He also wanted to know what SANBI’s stance was on integrating different sectors.
Dr Midgley responded that SANBI’s funding proposal was for R6 million, of which it had secured R2 million for the end of 2012. SANBI worked hard to develop partnerships with all role players, especially those in the academic community. The reason SANBI had been given the mandate to conduct the ARFP was due to its reputation for providing guidance and ensuring working towards coherent relationships between all the sectors involved in adaptation response actions.
The Chairperson said the DEA, the DST and all other sectors should sit down and discuss the parameters of their different mandates to ensure that duplicate structures and conflicting reports are avoided.
Department of Water Affairs (DWA) response to White Paper on Climate Change
Dr Smangele Mgquba, DWA Director for Climate Change, said DWA’s response to the WPCC was a strategy that would be practical, affordable, and implementable within the existing capacity of
The Chairperson asked whether the Water Conservation and Demand Management Flagship Programme fell under the mandate of the DWA.
Dr Mgqube said that the programme did not fall under her unit.
The Chairperson was disappointed that his committee would not receive an input on the Water Conservation and Demand Management Flagship Programme. It would become problematic if departments were unaware of the fact that their respective flagship programmes should form part of and be in sync with their adaptation strategies.
He said he was worried that his views on adaptation strategies and flagship programmes differed from those of DWA. The WPCC had recognised the DWA and given it a mandate because there had been a need to change water-related policies. Flagship programmes should thus be more about doing something different, and less about improving existing mechanisms.
He requested Ms Beaumont to consult with her sister department and provide the committee with a written report on the Water Conservation and Demand Management Flagship Programme.
There were no further questions from members.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Biodiversity and Conservation branch response
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Deputy Director-General for Biodiversity and Conservation, DEA, said his work was aimed at mitigating threats to the variability among living organisms. Biodiversity added huge value to human life, but was under threat from climate change and the loss of natural habitat. The economic cost of adapting to climate change was likely to be substantial, but the economic cost of not adapting would be even greater. It was important to integrate biodiversity and adaptation strategies into climate change mitigation programmes that were already underway. The Biodiversity Sector was working in collaboration with the South African Weather Service (SAWS), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South African National Parks (SANParks) and SANBI to establish a scientific research agenda that was credible.
The Chairperson asked how far the Biodiversity Sector was with developing an adaptation strategy.
Mr Mketeni responded that in 2011 a framework had been developed to inform the White Paper on Biodiversity Adaptation. Currently, a vulnerability assessment of all nine biomes was being developed. Implementation of the climate change adaptation plans would only commence in 2015.
Ms Wenger asked for clarity on the plans to introduce public awareness and participation processes in the local municipalities of rural areas.
Mr Mketeni said he did not have enough information to answer the question, as the Local Government Support Programme did not fall under his branch. However, he was aware that the DEA had developed guidelines and toolkits to assist local municipalities in drafting plans for sustainable development.
Mr Holomisa said the Biodiversity Sector should use carbon credit schemes to encourage the private sector to invest in the green economy, as this would also contribute to mitigation attempts. He asked whether the sector was involved in drafting the National Policy on Organic Production. Finally, he wanted to know how land was distributed between food producers and bio-fuel producers.
Mr Mketeni said he was not sure of the economics around the carbon credit system. He suggested that the DEA explain to members in simpler terms how the scheme works in practice. He said that bio-fuels were mostly produced in land areas that were most degraded.
Dr Huang asked how the Biodiversity Sector planned to comply with the EPWP by contributing to job creation in local communities.
Mr Mketeni said that the Department of Agriculture would be better able to answer this question. He would convey the question to his colleagues.
Mr Morgan said that irresponsible and unnecessary changes to land use management should be avoided. Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs) and Environmental Management Instruments (EMIs) should be used to guide adaptation plans. To what extent was the Biodiversity Sector using these as policy tools?
Mr Mketeni said EMFs were the best way to guide adaptation plans. The South African landscape should be mapped out in order to prioritise land usage according to issues of food security, land redistribution, and mining. This map should be presented to the National Planning Commission.
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked how the Biodiversity Sector planned to implement plans to prevent the over-grazing of land, especially in rural areas.
Mr Mketeni said a paradigm shift was needed so that livestock would be replaced with wild game because the latter was more likely to increase resilience.
The Chairperson acknowledged that the issue of adaptation was confusing. He suggested that all departments that were required to submit adaptation strategies should sit down and discuss their objectives. Also, the aims of flagship programmes should be made clearer.
The Chairperson said the Committee was kick-starting a process to see how departments were dealing with adaptation to climate change. The purpose of the meeting was not to criticise, but rather get a sense of the progress government was making.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) on adaptation to climate change
Mr Matiga Motsepe, Manager: Climate Change, DAFF, said the South African agricultural community was faced with severe impacts from climate change. The situation would have far-reaching consequences on livelihoods as a result of implications on job creation and food security. Many households in SA were vulnerable when it came to sustainable availability of food.
Agriculture was very sensitive to climate change effects. The sector now contributed less to the Gross Domestic Produce (GDP). The statistical indication was that the sector contributed 4.6% of the total emissions in SA. This was mainly through fermentation and manure management.
Mr Motsepe said much of the forests in SA had been degraded, but the extent and nature of the loss was poorly quantified. Natural forests benefited communities. In the 2000 Green House Gas Inventory, forests lands removed millions of tons of carbon dioxide. Forests were very important in the climate change adaptation by the rural communities.
He said the fishing industry was faced with declining catches, but it was not clear if this was as a result of over fishing or climate change. The Department was conducting investigation to ascertain the reasons, and also to assess vulnerability of fishing stock.
DAFF had commissioned a study in 2004 to find out the quantities of gas emissions that resulted from agriculture. The study identified methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide as the main gases that came directly from agricultural activities. Methane was one of the aggressive gases in climate change. The result of the study indicated that the bulk of gas emissions came from dairy farming and fermentation, and these findings would be used to formulate policy.
DAFF was working on developing a mitigation strategy for the sector. Climate change would have serious impact by way of increased frequency of floods and sustained droughts. The Department also commissioned a study on mitigation and adaptation strategies. The outcome of that was the Atlas of Climate Change for the Agricultural Sector and it highlighted the impacts that might be negative, but also those that might be positive.
He said whilst main crop growing areas were likely to remain the same; it was likely that there would be changes in crops. Yields from certain crops would increase, but decrease in some others; certain previously unsuitable areas for specific crops would become suitable and vice versa.
Forests were a long-term economic investment, and climate change could significantly affect that prospect. There was a significant risk that the adaptive capacity of forests would be exceeded thereby compromising their ability to provide vital goods and services. As a result of degradation, there could be escalation in the number of foreign species and diseases.
In fisheries, there had been an observation that SA water bodies had changed resulting in decreased availability of resources. Traveling farther out to sea resulted in increased fuel usage and would contribute to green house gas emissions. Implications were similar to the inland water ecosystems that were associated with water quantity and quality. Temperature would affect the distribution of fish, and variations in flooding events might as well affect fish migration and spawning patterns.
Mr Motsepe said adaptation was a key priority and it was important to develop an adaptation strategy for the sector. In addressing climate change, it was important that DAFF improve on research and on the means of implementation in terms of finance and technology. The Department had developed early warning systems that would interpret weather forecasts and disseminate the information to the farming communities. Early warning systems as a tool needed to be improved. Adaptation needed to be elevated as a priority, and there was a need for an integrated approach in terms of risk.
The Department was capacitating the farming communities on diversification of both crops and livestock. DAFF encouraged ploughing of drought resistant crops and flood management strategies. The Department had a cropping strategy, and was now looking at crops with shorter germination period and growing season. These measures would bring a lot of benefits to farmers.
One of the priorities and policy directives for planning adaptation response was zero tillage farming. This form of cropping required minimum soil disturbance. Benefits to farmers included increased growth and development of soil microorganisms and better protection of land. Livestock management was another strategy, especially around formulation of the diet. There was a new initiative that sought to look at new breeds for livestock that could adapt to climate change. Benefits included reduced animal health problems.
Mr Motsepe said adaptation programmes underway included ongoing awareness programmes. The Department utilised structures that were aligned to it like the National Agro-meteorological Committee, Mentorship Action Programmes and Farmer Days, to spread the climate change message.
The Land Care Programme was another major programme underway to address the issue of conservation agriculture. DAFF had responded to the call by the National Climate Change Response Strategy and was developing sector plans. The Department already had the Climate Change Sector Plan (CCSP), but this was only for agriculture (as this was done before fisheries and forestry were incorporated into the Department).
It was important that the Department identify the most vulnerable areas. There was an initial study to determine preliminary indications of vulnerability to climate change in parts of the
More research was still needed in the areas of crop suitability and vulnerability. The project was new and would take off very soon. DAFF was part of the National Working Group on Climate Change and some of the projects that had been picked up were linked to the Department, but led by others. DAFF was planning a project on biomass which would hopefully reduce emissions. It was still at an early stage but resources had been put aside for that purpose.
SA had insufficient capacity for farmers to respond to climate change. There were uncertainties about the extent of climate change and that made it even more difficult to quantify the levels of vulnerability. Traditional knowledge systems needed to be integrated with other sciences to maximise benefits.
The Chairperson commented that DAFF appeared to be ahead of other departments when it came to adaptation. Most of them seemed to be stuck at the conceptualization stage, whilst DAFF had suggested some ways of dealing with climate change.
Mr G Morgan (DA) said it appeared that a lot of work had been done. He wanted to know if the country was modelling its ability to produce food given the rise in average temperature and water availability. The matter was a subject for further research, especially considering that SA had been producing much of its food. This was critical, as it would reflect on the country's need to increase the amount of food it accessed from the international market, for its increased demand.
Mr Motsepe replied that nothing had been done on modelling but this was in the pipeline with the role players concerned. There were good relations with the stakeholders such as the SA Weather Service, the Agricultural Research Council, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Mr Morgan asked the Department to comment on the possibility of compromised food security in SA. Was DAFF facilitating discussion with any other country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, especially those that had decent rainfall. Food security was an important matter that needed to be tackled at the regional level. To what extent did the Department engage other countries, especially those with higher grain production?
Mr Motsepe replied that there were forums that DAFF participate on. There was a monthly advisory on food challenges. There also was constant engagement with role players.
Mr Morgan asked what fish stock were showing vulnerability to climate change.
Mr Motsepe replied that the fish stock that had been severely impacted on were demesal; linefish; rock lobster and pelagic.
Ms Jean Mwicigi, Fisheries, DAFF, said as fish lived in the ocean, they did not get directly impacted by climate change. What the Department was concerned about more was variability. When there were storms or rise in temperature, there would be a decline in catches. The Department was looking to establishing if the decline was due to over fishing or climate change. It was appropriate that a vulnerability assessment was conducted for fish, so that the Department could undertake further research on stock declines.
The Chairperson interjected and said the picture looked bleak because there were only 27 species of fish that were left.
Ms Mwicigi replied that this was not the case. The Department had done a good job on its fish stock. The 27 species were threatened, but the Department was working to build stock. There was an ecosystems approach to fishing; even before being drawn into climate change discussion the Department had already looked to an integrated approach to fishing management. This was further illustrated by the small-scale fishing policy that had come out the previous week. DAFF was looking at the role of subsistence fishing, and how this could be made resilient.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked if DAFF worked with the Veterinary Institute especially in the area of livestock management.
Mr Motsepe replied that the Department had its own Veterinary Services Directorate but not much information was available on that.
The Chairperson said the presentation made sense to the input received in the morning especially in the area of flagship programmes. It was important for departments to prioritise focus areas when it came to adaptation strategies. It was possible that each department would come up with a string of strategies that were impossible to fund and implement. Once a department was organised and focussed, the next logical step was to ask how it should be prioritised. It was important that Parliament got the Technical Committee operational so as to get the nation talking about climate change and adaptation strategies.
Mr Morgan said he was not satisfied with the regional plans as food security would influence migration from most of the neighbouring countries and some in Sub-Saharan Africa. This was a cooperative regional project that should be taken. Climate change in this sense was a security drain to SA, and DAFF had a vital role to play in not only securing the country's needs but also identifying vulnerability elsewhere in the region. He hoped DAFF would move with urgency in the area of regional coordination efforts.
Mr Gontse Morakile, Research Manager, DAFF, said there were programmes happening at regional level, but they were not informed by climate change. Programmes could be tweaked to ensure that climate change was addressed. He mentioned regional programmes such as the regional feed banks and the genetic materials.
The Chairperson said the Department had started doing work although still concentrated on agriculture. Parliament and government would need to meet twice a year when considering the implementation of the White Paper on Climate Change. There was a need to meet with all the departments to define and clarify adaptation.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) on adaptation to climate change
Mr Enock Mhlanga,
The Department was there to create sustainable rural communities and ensure food security. When dealing with the plight of rural communities, all sectors needed to replicate what DRDLR proposed to do. The Department needed to be seen as a leader in response programmes to climate change. In implementing its mandate, the Department always had to recognise the role of the sector in contributing to climate change.
Several projects and programmes had been established, and this would have to be streamlined with other departments and municipalities. DRDLR had currently established a Technology, Research and Development Unit. The Unit would research alternative technologies in implementing projects, instead of relying on conventional methods. The Department had also established the Environmental Planning and Compliance Unit and the Rural Disaster Mitigation Services Unit that took care of communities who had been affected by drought and floods.
Mr Mhlanga said rural communities were the worst hit when it came to climate change, and it affected their livelihood. The Department was concerned and planning needed to address the issue of how to resolve challenges for rural people. Despite being a new department, DRDLR needed to scan its policies to see where it could come with interventions to align policies with climate change responses. There was inadequate planning and decision-making that usually negated considerations of climate change.
The Technology Research and Development Council still needed to be strengthened. The challenge was getting the technology unit to work with the municipalities. There were challenges with resource allocation and mobilisation, and interventions needed to be reengineered and streamlined. When role players spoke of resource, they usually refer to mitigation measures, but very little was said about adaptation. There was also a lack of inter-governmental coordination so there was a need to work on this.
He said the Department was implementing projects to respond directly to climate change. The technology unit had been involved in a project called conservation agriculture where it worked with 44 communities in both the
The Department had another technology to assist communities hit by floods. A pilot of 13 houses built with sandbags had been undertaken. The pilot did not use cement at all, but only bags and sand. He explained that the only emissions to the atmosphere around the building of the houses might have been during the production of the bags. This had a benefit of reducing emissions by 95% when compared to the conventional brick wall. If natural materials were used there would be a reduction of 95%. Sandbags were energy friendly and promoted water efficiency. This kind of technology was relevant in those houses that were built below the flood line.
DRDLR spent about R850 000 training rural communities on rural disaster risk management; and 808 had households benefited. The social relief project spent R27 million in one financial year. The Department had also established disaster management help desks at various Thusong Centres, and that benefited about 41 local municipalities.
There were vulnerable communities to where investments seldom went. Government needed to ensure that infrastructure was developed in rural communities. The climate change impact would affect communities on key facets of living. Addressing this question required collaborative efforts. There were infrastructure and education projects. The Department also had economic development projects such as building gabions and fencing. DRDLR had done fencing more for communities around
He spoke about the cleaning and greening projects currently being implemented, called Eco-Town, in places such as
Mr Mhlanga said the sector plan would focus on identifying areas requiring policy review in a sector. It would specify roles and institutional arrangements for stakeholders within the sector. There was a need to identify constraints and opportunities for job creation. One could not talk green economy without mentioning job creation, especially as it pertained to national programmes. The sector plan would outline models for resource allocation and mobilisation as it applied to funding of initiatives. The plan should also come up with a monitoring and evaluation framework. This would talk to the broader presidential monitoring and evaluation framework. The Department needed to identify and formulate a case for climate change adaptation flagship projects in at least two Comprehensive Rural Development Programmes (CRDP).
He said DRDLR did not negate issues related to climate change as it was important to embrace environmental management. According to the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill (SPLUMB), no spatial development framework would be regarded as credible if not informed by an adopted environmental instrument such as an Environmental Management Framework (EMF). The Bill was very clear on how environmental matters had to be engaged.
The Department referred to the unit dealing with the Environmental Compliance and Implementing Forum (ECIF) to coordinate information sharing. The forum would assist officials to determine environmental issues on all projects. He requested the Committee note the many climate change challenges for rural communities, saying political advice was much needed, especially since the Department was still new.
Mr Morgan said the presentation and information presented was ad hoc. The work of DRDLR overlapped with other departments and other spheres of government. Many of the things the Department could be doing, were done at other spheres of government. The Department in many instances found itself having to justify its existence.
Mr Morgan said he appreciated the points around spatial planning. A lot of work still needed to be done on the Bill by Parliament. Adaptation to climate change was where the Department could make a meaningful contribution especially in land reform. This was where DRDLR could contribute to changes in improving people’s dignity and giving people ownership of the land. Rural dwellers would be affected disproportionately by the impact of climate change. Issuing titles to land would make people productive and this was the best way of keeping people in rural areas.
Mr Morgan said he was aware of the funding challenges and scarcity of resources but this was critical if the Department wanted to empower rural communities.
Mr Mhlanga replied that issues of mandates were political. The Director General, Mr Mduduzi Shabane, said the African National Congress (ANC) in its manifesto had five priority areas and rural development was one of them. This was the instruction that had to be carried out. The ANC said the mandate had to be broadened to include rural development, and honestly this was the route DRDLR had to follow. In teaching staff on rural development, political principle said rural development stood on three branches: agrarian transformation, rural development and land reform. The three were interlinked.
In trying to ensure that rural development was beneficial to the communities DRDLR tried to implement the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme in those communities. Efforts put into improving lives in rural areas were not coordinated and could not be reported on. A delivery mechanism was needed to report on the efforts of the Department.
Mr B Huang (ANC) wanted to know where sand would be sourced for the sandbag technology. He was concerned by the large scale impact such an activity would have on the ecosystems around river banks. He found it strange that such an activity would be referred to as a technology.
Mr M Mathebe (ANC) said he agreed with what the Members had said about the functions and mandate of the Department. The sandbag project looked like a good project in that cement was not used. However, in this way was the Department not contributing towards soil erosion that exacerbated the effects of climate change?
Mr Mhlanga replied that SA's position on climate change was that developmental needs took precedent over environmental considerations. The use of sandbag technology reduced up to 95% of green house gas emissions. Sand harvesting was much better than emitting undesirable gases into the atmosphere; this was a trade-off government was trying to make. The role of the Technology Research Unit was to research if the 13 sandbag houses that had been build really served the purpose. Over a period of time, research would tell if the technology worked; if it had any shortcomings; and if it could be rolled out countrywide. The Unit would continue to do that research.
Mr Huang sought clarity on the job creation ability of such projects. The contribution of the Department in the White Paper on Spatial Planning and Land Use Management was not clear. He asked for details about the involvement of DRDLR in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Mr Mathebe wanted to know if it would not be wise to undertake a coordinated approach to dealing with climate change in rural communities.
Mr Mathebe asked if the houses would be left with the bare sandbags appearing. If so, where was the decency in that? Having a lot of sandbags on top of one another was dehumanising.
Mr Mhlanga replied that a porous material was used to coat the bags, but the kind of material would allow flood waters to permeate in and out of the house and still not cause any damage.
The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the mandate of the Department. The continual reference to sectoral projects indicated the Department had ventured into another department’s territory. This could give clarity on some other things that were asked. It was possible that DRDLR was reporting on things that were not under its ambit, but were sectoral functions. The officials needed to delineate these roles so that the Committee understood where and what the work of the Department was.
Ms Nozizwe Makgalemele replied the Department had spent a lot of time trying to understand what its mandate was. Under the stewardship of Minister Gugile Nkwinti, the shift had more focus on rural areas. Members were correct, the Department was doing everything and anything. DRDLR had came up with a comprehensive rural programme. Rural communities were vulnerable and most affected by lack of resources and effects of climate change.
The Department invited partners, especially departments relevant to the pertinent issues. DRDLR had found that capacity to deliver to rural communities was a challenge in many departments, and those communities had been marginalised for a period of time. DRDLR could not turn a blind eye on what it saw while working in those communities. Other departments were not visible in times of need for rural communities. She cited the recent floods that hit the northern parts of the country, where the pertinent department (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs - COGTA) was absent.
DRDLR organised forums with other departments and made them aware of their role. Every sector department knew what to do when disasters hit. The Department championed and encouraged the use of green sources of energy that would contribute less to the atmosphere by way of emissions. DRDLR was in the process of developing policies and guidelines to mitigate disasters. The Department did everything but it liaised with other departments.
Mr Mhlanga said in the Climate Change Response Framework, rural development was a sector. It was agreed rural development was a cross cutting issue, and thus addressed as rural settlements. This was informed by that all other departments contributed directly to climate change adaptation. It was impossible for anyone to claim to have coordinated government efforts towards climate change adaptation.
Department of Human Settlements (DHS) on adaptation to climate change
Ms Namso Baliso, Director: Macro Policy, DHS, said the Department derived its mandate from the Constitution. Everyone had the right to have access to adequate housing, that being more than just a roof over one's head. Adequate housing included space; a suitable environment; accessibility to economic centres and basic facilities. The Department needed to maintain this balance.
The Housing Act required municipalities to ensure access to adequate housing and that conditions not conducive to health and safety were prevented. There was a comprehensive plan for the development of sustainable human settlements. The plan used housing delivery as an instrument for the development of sustainable human settlements. The plan also placed emphasis on the quality of the housing product; it compelled the Department not just to provide a house but ensure a quality living environment.
In its challenges DHS included informal settlements, and in some instances these were located in ecologically viable areas. These settlements usually destroyed the flora species. SA settlements were sprawling, in that people travelled long distances to work. The emissions that cars and buses put into the atmosphere when people travelled, needed to be taken into consideration.
Informal settlement dwellings also put pressure on the environment because they were situated in areas where there were not basic services. Inside the houses, people used non-renewable sources of energy like coal and paraffin, as a result emitting toxic fumes. There would be poor indoor air quality in those houses and people could fall sick easily. The houses did not store heat, and as a result, in winter reliance on energy sources increased dramatically.
In trying to address these challenges, DHS had norms and standards for housing development. These were intended for quality and uniformity in providing human settlements. Standards usually concerned the actual house only. These had been enhanced to provide improved guidelines on quality housing. The improved standards addressed house plan design. It had been prescribed to municipalities that housing designs needed to be facing north so as to extract enough sunlight. The windows should be larger and build on the north facing side of the house, with roof overhangs. These were currently in the housing code. The use of energy efficient materials was encouraged, especially those that trapped heat during the day and released it at night. People needed to be encouraged to have gardens. Correct pipe sizing and water pressure was encouraged as that would also contribute to saving water.
Current DHS programmes included the Informal Settlement Upgrading Programme. The Department had been mandated to provide 400 000 households with security of tenure. DHS had established a support programme to about 49 municipalities identified as having the fastest growth rate of informal settlements. The Department was assisting those municipalities in terms of prioritising informal settlements. DHS worked in partnership with the World Bank on the rollout of this programme.
There was a programme on Provision of Social & Economic Amenities that municipalities could access especially for areas that were previously disadvantaged. This grant was applicable to new developments. Another programme was the Integrated Residential Development Programme. This was a flagship programme where DHS provided housing developments with mixed amenities in one development. Partnerships had been developed with private institutions including the banks.
In 2008, the Department established the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to help with identification of suitable land for housing, with possibilities of reduced travelling times and carbon emissions. Municipalities were encouraged to develop their own densification strategies. These strategies needed to address the needs of specific areas. The Department had also sought assistance from contractors on how best to align the housing programme to the latest National Building Regulations on Energy Efficient measures.
The Chairperson commented that the Department should consider embarking on a process to address adaptation in the sector, especially since the presentation said nothing in that regard.
Ms Baliso said the Department lacked in thinking around adaptation and would therefore be looking to improve.
Ms Wegner sought clarity on whether the CSIR had or would be engaged when it came to sourcing correct systems and materials that were sustainable for the sector. There was no need to look at consultants because the CSIR had expert knowledge of these systems.
Ms Baliso replied that DHS had been working with the CSIR and had requested input on the cost breakdown for erecting energy saving houses. The entity did have prototypes.
The Chairperson said human settlement was where meaningful difference could be made when it came mitigating climate change. Everyone lived somewhere except for those who lived nowhere. This appeared to a specific area that emphasis could be directed in so far as individual household emissions. He hoped efforts to clearly identify how human settlements could contribute to the climate change fight would be made.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on water and fire programmes
Dr Guy Preston, DEA Deputy Director General: Environmental Programmes, said there would be a change in the pattern, number and intensity of fires as a result of climate change. Fires were a major threat associated with climate change. As part of adaptation, the Working for Fire programme would address the issue of capacity in dealing with fires. This was envisaged even through the legislation which ensured that people did the right thing. Equally important was how fire was used to manage land and ecosystems. Intensive research had been done on the uses of fire to manage land. The programme had been growing over the years, and was expected to grow even further, thereby providing employment opportunities.
Dr Preston said wetland degradation was already a problem and this would be exacerbated by climate change. Environmental Programmes branch was best known for its interventions around water quality. The impact would also extend to water quantity. Wetlands were a net base for water quantity.
There would be different patterns of rainfalls with increased frequency and intensity thereby leading to the destabilisation of catchment areas. Food security in many of the wetland rural areas would be a challenge, and could be addressed through the Working for Wetlands programme. Alien species would become ever more invasive, and these were a regular threat even if climate change did not happen. Twenty percent of SA's vegetation cover was alien species. He spoke of the devastating costs of not keeping invasive alien species under control. The role of Parliament would be critical in this area, in ensuring that there was relevant legislation to curb these effects.
He said research was needed to understand each species and the likely scenarios created by climate change. Although the work of the Department was not focused on clearing invading species, it was important to manage alien species. There would have be an enormous impact on biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems. Climate change would become a bigger problem, and a lot more vegetation would burn much quicker. There were many invasive diseases that would come and impact on the country as a result of climate change.
The number of jobs that would be created in managing the Working for Fire, Working for Wetlands, Working for Energy, Working for Land, and Working for Wildlife programmes would multiply if the programmes were to be implemented successfully. Unless SA dealt with poverty and unemployment, all of the other issues associated with climate change would only become worse.
The Chairperson said the presentation did not give a sense of whether there was an adaptation plan; or if one was being drafted. This was a reiteration of all the things the Department did. The input did not make the link and it was worrisome that the Department seemed to lack understanding.
Ms Judy Beaumont, DEA Deputy Director General: Climate Change and Air Quality, replied that the flagship programmes were about consolidating the work of the Department to the adaptation efforts. Water availability was vulnerable in certain areas and was impacted increasingly by climate change. The link was obvious if one talked about a water programme that contributed positively to water conservation. That would certainly be a contributor to adaptation efforts.
The Chairperson said the response was obvious. Whether this was called ‘adaptation’ or ‘flagship’, the weakness with the input was that it dealt with issues that the Committee already knew about. The presentation lacked substance when it came to what would become of the flagship programmes. There was no link in the presentation and the work of the Committee. The Department needed to understand what was meant by ‘flagship’.
Dr Preston apologised that he did not understand the brief, and replied that the pertinent information was available.
The Chairperson requested that the presenter not provide further explanation. He said the Department had already been requested to coordinate a meeting of all government departments in order to substantially breakdown the understanding of what adaptation meant to their respective mandates. Departments should sit down and engage in the next six months. The adaptation strategies needed to be clear on priorities and budgetary needs, and be more specific on meaning and interventions. These hearings had been useful to see the level of thinking by the departments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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