Friday, 2 December 2011

CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER - A GLOBAL CRISIS


BY: MAGGIE .M. MWAPE


For some, the global water crisis is about absolute shortages of physical supply. Climate change affects the function and operation of existing water infrastructure, including hydropower, structural flood defences, drainage and irrigation systems and as well as water management practices.

The adverse effects of climate change on freshwater systems aggravate the impacts of other stresses. Globally, water demand will grow in the coming decades, due to population growth and increasing affluence.  Regionally, there will be large changes in irrigation water demand as a result of climate change.
Observational records and climate projections from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Technical Paper V1 provide abundant evidence that freshwater resources are vulnerable and have the potential to be strongly impacted by climate change, with wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems. It states that;

1.      Higher water temperatures and changes in extremes, including floods and droughts, are projected to affect water quality and many forms of water pollution. This will have possible negative impact on ecosystems, human health, and water system reliability and operating costs. This will result in a decrease of freshwater availability for humans and ecosystems.

2.      There will be Changes in water quantity and quality, hence expected to affect food availability, stability, access, utilisation and general livelihoods. This is expected to lead to decreased food security and increased vulnerability of poor rural farmers especially in Southern Africa, semi-arid tropics and Asian.

3.      Climate change will affect the function and operation of existing water infrastructure. This includes hydropower, drainage and irrigation systems as well as water management practices.

Current water management practices in Zambia may not be robust enough to cope with the impacts of climate change on water supply reliability, flood risk, health, agriculture, energy and aquatic ecosystems

Therefore, adaptation strategies should be designed in the context of development, environment and health policies.

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