Chikulo

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CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY AND HUMAN SECURITY IN
SOUTH AFRICA
DSA Annual Conference, 3rd November 2012, London, UK
B.C.CHIKULO
INTRODUCTION
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This paper examines climate change, poverty and human security issues in South
Africa.
n South Africa, climate change mitigation poses significant challenges to the South
African Government because it has to juggle the needs of its energy-intensive
economy based on coal with resultant very high emissions, with the critical issues of
poverty and human security, as well as a host of daunting development challenges
inherited from the Apartheid regime.
The paper is organized into seven sections:
Socio-economic Profile of the Country
Policy Framework for Poverty Alleviation
Policy Frameworks Responses to Climate Change
Effects of Climate Change
Impacts of Climate Change
Delivery of Basic Social Services
Poverty and Inequality
Conclusion
Socio-economic Profile
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South Africa, has an estimated population of 47.9 million people (SSA 2007b), and is
one of the most sophisticated free-market economies on the African continent .
South Africa is also the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the African continent
and the world’s biggest single emitter of CO2 at 7.8 tons of CO2 annually (including
non-energy emissions).
This constitutes the 37th-highest CO2 emissions per capita, higher than many OECD
countries (Earthline Africa /Oxfam 2009).
While the economy displays many first world-features, including a sophisticated
financial and physical infrastructure, good telecommunications and energy supply
networks , it is plagued with wide disparities in wealth.
However, as a consequence of the legacy of Apartheid, the country’s economic
system has the highest marked dualities in the world, with a sophisticated industrial
economy existing alongside with an underdeveloped “informal” economy.
South Africa’s Gini Co-efficient ranked the country at 117th most economically
unequal out of 126 countries; indicating a wide gap between economic wealth and
development (UNDP 2007),
47 percent of the population are classified as poor (StatSA 2008).
Poverty is unevenly distributed amongst provinces and amongst racial groups.
Policy frameworks for Poverty Alleviation
In order to alleviate poverty the Government has adopted a number of policy
frameworks which include:
 the Reconstruction and Development Programme (1994)
 the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (1996)
 Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (2006)
 the Urban Development Strategy (1995),
 the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (2000).
 Anti-Poverty Strategy for South Africa ( 2008)
 War on Poverty Programme’’(2009)
 The primary objective has been to combat poverty by overcoming the inherited
socio-economic marginalization of the majority of the population through key priority
programmes such as: job creation, through public works, meeting a range of basic
needs and the delivery of housing, water and electrification .
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Policy Frameworks and Responses to Climate Change
• South Africa has signed and ratified several international
conventions and treaties, as well as adopted national, regulatory
instruments that underpin environmental and climate change
governance issues. These are as follows:
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International (global) Frameworks
United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) (1989)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC1992)
Kyoto Protocol (1997)
Global Environmental Facility
Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) (1989)
India-Brazil-South Africa New Delhi Summit Declaration (2008)
Agenda 21
Policy Frameworks and Responses to Climate Change(Cont)
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National Frameworks
RSA Constitution, Act 108 of 1996
National Climate Change Response Strategy (2004)
White Paper on Environmental Management Policy (1997)
White Paper on Energy Policy (1998)
Air Quality Act (2004); White Paper for Sustainable Coastal Development (2000)
Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations
National Environmental Management Act (1998)
Strategic Framework on Sustainable Development in South Africa
National Climate Change Response White Paper 2011.
The above frameworks provide the broader policy endorsement for climate change
mitigation initiatives, as well as the context within which the government seeks to
reconcile the tension between development and mitigation objectives.
Effects and Causes of Climate Change
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As a result of the heavy reliance on coal energy sources, South Africa has relatively
high emissions per capita, at 7.8 tons CO2 annually (including non-energy emissions
(Winkler and Marquand 2009:50).
The country’s dependency on coal-fired power stations has resulted in a yearly per
capita emission rate of about 10 tons of carbon dioxide, 43 per cent higher than the
global average .
Most of the emissions come from just two companies Eskom (coal-fired power
stations) and Sasol (coal - to - liquids company) (Earthline / Oxfam 2009:6).
The country has already been experiencing the early effects of global warming and
climate variability.
Average land and sea surface temperatures have increased, sea level is rising,
rainfall patterns have changed, and the intensity and frequency of extreme weather
events such as snow, hail, floods and storms has increased (DEAT 2008,2011).
Impact of Climate Change
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The three major environmental consequences of climate variability are drought,
floods and fires (DEAT, 2011; DoST, 2010).
Floods
Human settlements, formal and informal, low cost and up market are vulnerable to
higher risk flooding due heavy rainfalls or coastal storm surges.
Extensive flooding of houses and infrastructure with consequential damage to
property and human life.
Informal (“squatter”) settlements and other low-cost housing estates (RDP houses)
are most at risk and have borne the brunt of climate change .
Extensive flooding caused by devastating storms and rain, leave many dwellings in
these settlements inhabitable thus render thousands of inhabitants homeless.
The poor quality of dwellings increases the vulnerability of most poor households to
adverse weather conditions, and makes them susceptible to storm damage with
several hundred homes being swept away every year.
The poor structures are thus vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and are easily
damaged or washed away during strong storms and floods (DEAT 2005b:Killian et al
2005).
Air pollution and Fires
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About 19 per cent of the dwellings in South Africa have been classified as being of
informal (“squatter”) type or in poor state of disrepair .
They are constructed using various materials including wood and cardboard .
The use of coal kerosene, liquid petroleum or wood for home cooking and heating,
coupled with the abnormally high housing densities also predispose informal
settlements to the frequent incidence of accidental intense large fires.
Such fires not only destroy hundreds of shacks, but also create hundreds of destitute
and homeless people especially in the winter season (Harris and Krueger 2005;
Smith 2005).
This hazard is recurrent in most of informal settlements with concomitant loss of life
and property
Human health
Climate change provides additional threats that interact with and reinforce existing in
the patterns of infectious diseases (Madzwamuse, 2010; DEAT, et al, 2011)
South Africa is likely to be exposed to an increase in water and vector borne
diseases, particularly malaria and schistosomiasis (bilharzia) ,dengue fever, cholera
and dysentery due to a resultant change in the ecosystem changes
Effects and Causes of Climate Change(Cont)
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Climate change worsens existing vulnerabilities. It means that people living with HIV /
Aids and TB in particular would experience increased risk (DEAT,2011:18)
The high reliance on polluting fuels, especially the use of paraffin, wood ,coal and
candles poses a health risk result ing in high levels of respiratory illness, burns from
fires.
Exposure to indoor pollution (IAP) also results in several health complications: such
as ,i.e., respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung
cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, and tuberculosis and eye disease.
Livelihoods
Rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and water scarcity, as well as recurrent floods
are having a significant impact on the agricultural systems in South Africa.
These impacts include reduction in the amount of available land suitable for both
arable and pastoral agriculture, the reduction in the length of the growing season and
a decrease in yields.
Climate change is also likely to further reduce the contribution of agriculture to the
country’s GDP, which has been declining over the years
Effects and Causes of Climate Change(Cont)
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Shifting Migration Patterns
The major impacts of the intensified climate variability on migration have been two –
fold: national and international.
At the national level, the decline in agricultural production and the general
vulnerabilities and a lack of opportunities has resulted in increased migration to urban
centers (DoST,2010) The result has been growing number of informal settlements
and overcrowding in existing ones (SAIRR,2010).
At the international level, South Africa has witnessed an influx of foreign nations into
the country due to its generous refugee policy.
For instance, in 2011 the country experienced an unprecedented level of immigrants
of Somali and Ethiopian nations in response to prolonged droughts ,poverty and war
in their own countries (UNICEF,2011:31)
As a result thousands of Ethiopians and Somalis have made their way to South
Africa and settled in townships and informal settlements, swelling the number of
foreign nationals ,who include Mozambicans and Zimbabweans leading to
mushrooming of informal settlements and overcrowding in existing ones.
The combined effect of both national and international migration has been frictions
with locals over competition for already scarce resources and social services.
Effects and Causes of Climate Change(Cont)
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Delivery of Basic Social Services and Service Delivery Protests
In order to reduce the inherited backlogs of basic social services, the government has
since 1994 sought to achieve universal access to basic social services in the whole
country.
Significant in-roads have been made in providing access to basic services such as
electricity, water and sanitation .
It is estimated that some 82.6% of households have access to electricity up from 58
% in 1996 but that only half of rural households are electrified.
Similarly, some 92.4% have access to safe water source but only 72.2% of
households have access to sanitation (SAIRR, 2010).
However, despite the significant inroads made in the provision of basic services
backlogs remain leading service delivery protests.
Between 2004 and 2011 there had been about 285 service delivery protests
reported( Karamoko,and Jain,2011:24)
Furthermore, the spate of violent service delivery protests tend to occur
predominant in urban metro areas (HSRC,2008: South African Citynework,2011)
In some instances, these protests have also degenerated into a spate of
concentrated violent xenophobic attacks on foreign Africans.
Effects and Causes of Climate Change(Cont
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Poverty and Inequality
Despite significant service delivery milestones, little progress has been made on the
central objective of reducing poverty and inequality.
Between 1998 and 2009 the Human Poverty Index increased from 20 % to 25 %.
Furthermore, in South Africa, the face of poverty is often female.
It is estimated that 54.4% of poor people in South Africa are women – the equivalent
of 11.9 million people.
Sixty percent of female-headed households are poor compared to 31% of maleheaded households(DWCPD, 2012:10).
Similarly, the unemployment rate had peaked at 31.2% in 2003, dropped to 23% in
2007 and then increased to 24.2 % at the end of 2009 (Presidency,2009)
A South African Government’s Millennium Development Goals Mid-term Report
indicates that between 1993 and 2006”inequality between races has declined, while
inequality within race groups has grown” (RSA 2007:15 emphasis added).
The prevailing conditions of poverty and inequality provide an environment for the
risks and exposure of the poor to the impacts of climate variability and impacts on
human security.
Conclusion
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Climate change in South Africa is wide-ranging and has had a profound impact on the
marginalized communities and households
Climate change related disasters have been causing death, injury, disease, damage
to property, infrastructure, the environment, and disrupting the life of communities.
Climate variability also forces people to migrate which in turn results in conflict in the
receiving areas due to competition over limited resources and services.
Consequently, intense and variable climatic impacts disproportionately affects the
poor sector of the population further aggravating the depth of poverty, inequality and
insecurity, as well as widening of the gap between the rich and poor.
In terms of legislative and policy frameworks, significant efforts have been made with
respect to mitigation and adaptation concerning the effects of climate variability, as
well as the alleviation of poverty in order to improve human security.
The challenge facing the South African Government, however, is how to link the
objectives of poverty alleviation policies with those of climate change priorities within
a sustainable development framework.
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