Thursday, 19 November 2015

Climate change and Swaziland

Jan writes from Swaziland:

"Reports from Swaziland  tell of serious drought and high temperatures.
In fact the situation here is described as a National Disaster.
The media has reported that many families are losing their cows while other families are not able to plant anything.

Most Swazis are subsistence farmers who grow maize and other crops to feed and raise their families while also rearing cattle to sell and educate their children. In Swazi tradition a man’s cattle reflects his wealth and most Swazis have a sentimental attachment to their livestock. It is for that reason that the death of cattle owing to drought is an emotional trauma to most families as well as financial ruin. A large proportion of rural households practice subsistence agriculture. About 66 percent of the population is unable to meet basic food needs, while 43 per cent live in chronic poverty.

We have to ask the question is this drought and lack of rain a Swazi problem and are they the ones who caused it?   

“Last month was the hottest October in modern history and the first ten months of the year have also been at record levels, US government scientists said this afternoon. (18 November)
The latest data means that 2015 is firmly on pace for being the most scorching since 1880, as global warming concerns mount ahead of key climate talks in Paris later this month.
October marked the sixth month in a row that heat records were shattered worldwide, said the monthly report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for October 2015 was the highest for October since record keeping began in 1880," said NOAA.”

The situation in Malkerns:

The average monthly maximum temperature for
August:                  23.8C⁰
September:           25.4C⁰
October:                25.4C⁰

Actual maximum average temperature in 2015 measured at the farm in Luyengo:
August:                  29C⁰
September:           29C⁰
October:                36C⁰

The average monthly rainfall in Malkerns for:
August:                  20mm
September:           44mm
October:                98mm

Actual rainfall measured at Luyengo farm for:
August:                    6mm
September:           12mm
October:                38mm

The situation in the Makerns Valley is exaggerated by the ongoing repairs to the canal, necessitating periodic closure.

I went to see the very origin of the canal at the Usuthu river, 12 km from the farm. The river has practically no flow. Normally 50% of the water from the river is directed towards the canal. This canal feeds the entire Malkerns valley, all farms, all households and all businesses. The latest rationing proposals include the complete closure of the canal for periods of 2 weeks, that is if some rain will fall, otherwise there will be no water at all from the canal. At the moment the position is close to catastrophic. The farm is alive, but only thanks to the reservoir, and Tiekie’s careful rationing strategy."

Please support the Diocese of Swaziland as it continues to serve the people of Swaziland in these difficult days.