Dr Gina Ziervogel says we could and should be doing more to protect vulnerable communities from the effects of climate change, such as those living in Khayelitsha, a Cape Town township that floods every year during the rainy season.
The floodgates open
South Africa could be doing more to mitigate the impact of climate change on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, says Dr Gina Ziervogel.
“In the city of Cape Town, for example, flood risk is extremely high in informal settlements, and I don’t think that has been prioritised sufficiently; whereas in coastal areas that are at risk of storm surge and sea-level rise, there’s been a lot of focus – because there’s a lot of money,” says Ziervogel, a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science.
Households on the Cape Flats are flooded every year, posing health risks and harming businesses. “One of the things that’s really important with increasing climate risks is reducing the disaster risk; and we’d argue that unfortunately, because of the circumstances, we tend to be reactive and try and react to flood risk – not enough is being done to reduce flood risk, to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.”
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Story by Yusuf Omar. Photos by Rodger Bosch.