Botswana to cross critical temperature threshold in less than a decade

The failure of Gaborone Dam in 2015 jolted the nation into the reality of climate chamge
The failure of Gaborone Dam in 2015 jolted the nation into the reality of climate chamge

In less than a decade, the global temperature could cross the 1.5°C threshold of average warming that the United Nations has been trying to avoid though its international climate change negotiations. Local climate scientists argue that Botswana will reach that point even sooner. Semi-desert countries like Namibia and Botswana need to start planning their water management, and adapting agricultural practices, if they are to weather the droughts and heatwaves that will become the ‘new normal’ in these parts, writes LEONIE JOUBERT*

When ecologist Ephias Mugari visited the Bobirwa area in eastern Botswana in February 2018, the region was in the grip of a long drought. It was the height of summer, and many of the farmers he met still hadn’t planted any crops. The rains were three months late. 

A year earlier, a colleague visited the Onesi region in northern Namibia, about 2,000 km north-west of here, and found the rural villages bustling with Angolans who had crossed the border, desperate for work. The drought that had started in 2013 still hadn’t broken, and their small farms could no longer support the Angolan families that lived on them. So people drifted away from their homes, looking for piecemeal jobs as domestic cleaners or farm labourers in Namibian villages where the local economies were a little more resilient. They were happy to be paid in cash or food. Mugari, a doctoral researcher at the University of Botswana (UB) , is part of a group of researchers that is collaborating through a unit called Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions. They’re looking for clues to how the climate is changing in some semi-desert parts of southern Africa, and how communities and governments should respond, so that that people living in these rural parts can absorb the kinds of environmental shocks that will hit drier parts of southern Africa as conditions warm and dry in future.

Editor's Comment
Let the law take its course

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