Creating awareness on bad weather conditions

SAWS weather forecaster Mkhushulwa Msimanga has emphasised the need for residents to heed the forecaster’s alerts. | Facebook

SAWS weather forecaster Mkhushulwa Msimanga has emphasised the need for residents to heed the forecaster’s alerts. | Facebook

Published Apr 29, 2024


Durban — Convincing communities to follow environmentally friendly actions that could see a reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere remains a challenge and continues to place both KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa in harm’s way when it comes to global warming.

A senior researcher at the South African Weather Service (SAWS) Katlego Ncongwane said this was one of the reasons they had embarked on a nationwide campaign to bring awareness to communities on the effects of global warming and the dangers of dumping and pollution.

The week-long workshop in Pietermaritzburg culminated in a public engagement which included schools, district traditional leadership and community members at Thembalethu Community Hall.

Ncongwane said they had chosen uMgungundlovu District because it had emerged as one of the areas that were prone to storms and heavy rains which were associated with climate change.

“A gathering like this and such a turnout brings hope that we will be able to deal with misconceptions and myths around climate change and get everyone to take it serious enough to play their role in preserving the environment,” said Ncongwane, at a packed Thembalihle Community Hall in Pietermaritzburg.

She stressed that the campaign was a moving target, and it was important for everyone including businesses and environmental groups as well as local government to work together. SAWS weather forecaster Mkhushulwa Msimanga said they had learned a lot from the April 2022 floods that battered much of Durban and other parts of the province.

“That is why now we run campaigns like this one where we are cultivating weather-smart communities. We want to ensure that we save as many lives as possible when disasters strike. An avenue like this enables us to impart information such as how to interpret weather reports and warnings,” said the forecaster.

Msimanga added that they also wanted to ensure that there was a greater sense of urgency from communities when alerts are issued.

“It is very encouraging to see young people especially learners at this outreach event because it guarantees that the information will spread exponentially,” Msimanga said.

According to uMgungundlovu District Mayor Mzi Zuma, it was important for all role players to ensure that they meet their objectives, singling out traditional leaders among the key stakeholders in such a mission.

“A sizeable part of the land in this district falls under Amakhosi and it is important for them to work closely with the government on matters such as allocation of land for construction sites so that people do not build houses next to rivers,” said Zuma.

He echoed the call for everyone to know that climate change had become the new challenge facing communities and society.

Meanwhile, outgoing KwaZulu-Natal Members of Provincial Legislature (MPLs) want a National Council Of Provinces that is more efficient and sensitive to the views expressed by stakeholders during public hearings.

The view was expressed across the political divide as committee members moved for the adoption of the Climate Change Bill in the legislature this week. The bill aims to cut harmful emissions to limit the impact of climate change.

Conservation and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairperson Sithembiso Mshengu expressed their disappointment on how none of their suggestions had been included in the amendments to the bill by the NCOP Select Committee. KZN had sought for harsher penalties against individuals and companies that had broken the law.

Mshengu said there had been interest from a lot of role players varying from environmental activists, members of the public and business during the hearings. This underlined how seriously residents took climate change as well as the bill.

He told the virtual sitting that while there had been oral and written submissions, the committee had noted with disappointment how the submissions had not been included by the select committee from the NCOP, and how inputs from other provinces including the North West and Western Cape had also been ignored by the NCOP.

“The issue of penalties was raised a number of times at public hearings. The committee noted that the bill was silent on the penalties applicable to those emitters who exceed their carbon budgets,” said Mshengu.

Sunday Tribune