Where has all the Water Gone?: Understanding climate change from a community perspective Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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This report is a written account of research undertaken in northern KwaZulu-Natal that looks into the issue of climate change from the perspective of poor rural women and men. It documents their understandings of climate change, their experience of its impacts, as well as their efforts to live, learn and adapt to the changes. The research, which took place over a number of months in 2006, shows that communities believe climate change is occurring in the UMKhanyakude District andthey feel particularly vulnerable to its impacts. It must be stressed that theobservations and comments given by participants are based on observed changesover time, rather than just climate variability. The methodology used for this research during the data collection component included a number of PLA techniques (timelines, community maps, problem trees) as well as focus group interviews. The report contains notes on PLA responses in Annexes.
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    Where has all the water gone? Understanding climate change from a community perspective Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa Ubombo Drop-in Centre community garden C Sterrett/OAus FINAL REPORT Charlotte Sterrett  April 2007 “We are only able to sell our vegetables when it rains. Otherwise everything we grow we have to eat ourselves, and sometimes this is not enough”. Thandi, Hluhluwe Advent Creche    Understanding climate change from a community perspective 2 Contents  Acknowledgements and acronyms………………………………………………. 3 1   Summary and recommendations ……………………………………………….. 4   2   Introduction……………………………………………………………………….... 6 2.1 Climate change 2.2 UMKhanyakude Partnership Program 3   Research objectives and aims…………………………………………………… 11 4   Planning……………………………………………………………………………… 11  4.1 Methodology 4.2 Ethics 4.3 Trip outline 5   Research findings………………………………………………………………….. 14 5.1 PLA responses 5.2 Differences across communities 5.3 Gender and climate change 5.4 Health and climate change 5.5 Challenges 6   Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………... 20   7   Recommendations …………………………………………………………………. 21  7.1 The program 7.2 NGOs in the region 7.3 Oxfam Australia 8    Appendices ………………………………………………………………………….. 23  8.1 References 8.2 PLA responses 8.3 Interview questions 8.4 Focus group questions 8.5 Map of UMKhanyakude District  Understanding climate change from a community perspective 3  Acknowledgements This research would not have been possible without the support of the Oxfam  Australia Southern Africa Unit, both at Head Office and Field Office. Mavis Nyakurimwa in particular, was a key person who helped inform the research and assisted in its practical aspects, as well as liaising with partners and communities in order to undertake consultations. Great thanks must be given to the participants who took part in the research, as well as their communities, for without their participation there would be no research. Our partners in UMKhanyakude must also be thanked for accommodating our needs and helping identify community members to talk with, as well as taking time out of their busy schedules to be part of this work. Thank you.  Acronyms  AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome DES Dietary energy supply GCM Global climate model GNP Gross national product IPCC United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change HIV Human immunodeficiency virus MDGs Millennium Development Goals NGO Non-governmental organisation OAus Oxfam Australia OVC Orphans and vulnerable children PLA Participatory Learning and Action WHO World Health Organisation Lunchtime, Hluhluwe Advent Creche Spinach in a bag, Hluhluwe Advent Creche CSterrett/OAus  Understanding climate change from a community perspective 4 1. Summary and recommendations This report is a written account of research undertaken in northern KwaZulu-Natal that looks into the issue of climate change from the perspective of poor rural women and men. It documents their understandings of climate change, their experience of its impacts, as well as their efforts to live, learn and adapt to the changes. Climate change is a serious threat to the life and livelihoods of poor people around the world.   Its connections to water, energy, health, agriculture, food security, and natural resources means it is already frustrating our efforts to address poverty and to secure sustainable futures for poor women and men 1 . Put simply, it is a serious threat to the future of our planet which if not addressed, will hinder developing countries in reaching their poverty reduction and sustainable development objectives under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2 .  Africa, and in particular southern Africa, is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its direct physical exposure to climate related hazards such as frequent droughts and floods, its heavy reliance on rain-fed agriculture, its low institutional and technological capacity, the ongoing impact of poverty, and the impact of HIV and  AIDS and malaria 3 . By 2020, it has been projected that between 75 and 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages due to climate change. Agricultural production and access to food, in many African countries and regions will be severely affected 4 . The focus of this research is the Oxfam Australia UMKhanyakude Partnership Program which has operated in the district of UMKhanyakude, KwaZulu-Natal since July 2005. As a program its aims are to strengthen food and nutrition security within the context of HIV and AIDS in the region. It currently has 10 partners working throughout the district in the areas of food provision for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), community and household food gardens, small community based livelihood initiatives, income generation activities, and business and financial skills training. The research, which took place over a number of months in 2006, shows that communities believe climate change is occurring in the UMKhanyakude District and they feel particularly vulnerable to its impacts. It must be stressed that the observations and comments given by participants are based on observed changes over time, rather than just climate variability. Prolonged drought conditions, continued reductions in rainfall, as well as increasing rainfall variability, are all examples provided by community members of the impacts already being felt. While communities are aware of changes in the climate, they have little or no understanding of what this means in the longer term, or the reasons for the changes. Adaptation measures are limited with most focused on short term coping responses to prolonged drought conditions. Communities now produce less food; have poor access to water, and little hope of the situation improving. Add to this, HIV and AIDS which is overwhelming the region; high numbers of orphans and vulnerable children, unemployment at more than 50% of the adult population, and poor essential 1  Christian Aid, The climate of poverty , 2 2  United Nations Development Program. Climate change and the MDGs. Available at; http://www.undp.org/gef/adaptation/dev/02a.htm   3  IPCC, Climate change 2001: Technical Summary (IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, 2001) 4   IPCC, Climate change 2007: The Physical science basis, 4  
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