The Fourth Assessment report shows that the long-term trend 1900 – 2005 shows drying (longer dry seasons and more uncertain rainfall) over Southern Africa. The IPCC Third Assessment report indicates that by 2050 temperatures and rainfall over southern Africa will be 2 – 4°C higher and 10 – 20% lower than the 1961-90 baseline, respectively. Projections made in recent modelling by the University of Cape Town, South Africa (2006) coincides with this rainfall projection over most of Southern Africa. Areas receiving 400-1000 mm of rain (Swaziland is included in this) may see a drop in perennial surface drainage of up to 75% by 2050, which will have major impacts on river flow and soil water content, with potentially serious socio-economic impacts in rural areas.
As reported in Swaziland’s Initial National Communication (2002), the models generally predict a fall in total annual rainfall, and a change in the distribution of rainfall: summers becoming wetter (leading to flooding) and winters becoming dryer (leading to prolonged droughts). This is bourne out by experience, as documented in Swaziland’s Initial National Communication. Hotter and drier conditions affect soil structure and lead to poorer water supply to crops, affecting agricultural yields. Research shows that there could be falls of 30-60% in crop yields in some areas, because subsistence agriculture (on which 70% of the Swazi population depends) is mostly rain-fed. Cash crops (contributing 8.6% to GDP) are irrigated.
With virtually all irrigation in Swaziland based on surface water, this makes irrigation vulnerable to climate change. The Government’s aim is to shift agriculture from subsistence to commercial, which will require large increases in irrigation. The majority of water is allocated to the production of cash crops that may become ill-suited to changing rainfall conditions in Swaziland, eg sugar cane. There is also relatively large-scale afforestation industry for eucalyptus – a tree ill-suited to drier conditions. A mere 50% of the country’s rural population (which represents 78.9% of the population – 2007 census) has access to potable water. This means that collecting, and storing water is a major undertaking for rural people, in particular women, which detracts from engaging in other productive activity. A population growth rate of 3.2% per annum implies a further significant drop in per capita water flows.
All of Swaziland’s river basins are shared with South Africa and/or Mozambique. There are five major river systems in Swaziland. Four of these originate in South Africa, passing through Swaziland, back to South Africa and finally to the Indian Ocean through Mozambique. These are the Komati, Mlumati, Usutfu and Ngwavuma river basins. The fifth river basin – Imbuluzi – orginates in Swaziland and passes through to the Indian Ocean again through Mozambique. There are small streams in the Southern part of the country which form part of the Phongola Basin, most of which is in South Africa. The Lusutfu, Ingwavuma and Phongola rivers are part of the bigger Maputo River Basin which transects the neighbouring Republics of South Africa and Mozambique, and Swaziland. The Komati and Mlumati form the larger Incomati river basin which is also shared by the three countries.
Changes in flow regimes in shared water resources due to climate change will affect water availability for energy and agricultural production and domestic use in the Southern Africa region. This risk needs to managed explicitely to avoid conflict.
The goal of the project is to ensure that national and transboundary water resources management is adapted to the expected impact of climate change. The objective of the project is to promote the implementation of national and transboundary integrated water resource management that is sustainable and equitable given expected climate change.
Water resources management has been highlighted as an adaptation need in the Swaziland 2002 Initial National Communications, where it notes the major importance of the sector in supporting the country’s socio-economic development and the need to develop robust water resource systems and techniques to incorporate climate change into long-term planning.
The proposed project areas are the Komati and Usuthu River Basins, home to the majority of the Swazi population. These river basins have been selected because of the links the project can make to the investment activities of an implementing partner with a good track record in implementing irrigation and agricultural development in the area. The project will gather community views on vulnerability to climate change and response preferences– the project’s bottom-up analysis. NGOs, which are responsible for delivery of development services in project areas, will be used to gather information for this purpose. The project will also use information from a climate risk mapping financed by UNDP, supplemented by additional hydrological impact analysis as needed–the project’s top-down analysis. These two sets of information on climate change risks and response options will be used to (a) promote informed and inclusive national dialogue around water needs, vulnerability to climate change and water allocation in Swaziland among productive and domestic uses, b) create political will to promote the adoption of the draft National Water Policy and strategy and to allocate resources to its implementation c) integrate climate risk management into national policies and programmes relevant to integrated water resource management and d) generate information on the implications of climate change for transboundary water management with South Africa and Mozambique for use in the co-management of transboundary water resource.
The project will work with institutions such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the National Water Authority (NWA), Komati Basin Authority, Department of Meteorology (MET), Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprises (SWADE) and Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA) as well as sectoral ministries who have a stake in water resources management, to develop and disseminate climate change analysis and its implications for the draft National Water Policy and transboundary water resources management. The PPG phase will map out roles and responsibilities of these various stakeholder groups in the project.
The project will be executed by the Department of Water Affairs (Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy), which will work closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and Department of Meteorology. Executing partners will be the Ministry of Agriculture, particularly the extension department, and the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) that will coordinate the NGOs on the ground.
The project will follow the adaptive capacity and policy-based approaches to adaptation as outlined in the UNDP Adaptation Policy Framework.