Drought in South Africa : lessons lost and/or learnt from 1990 to 2005

Austin, Wayne Devlin
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Drought and its associated impacts have been causing critical problems for agriculture, vulnerable communities and overall development for many years in South Africa. Impacts of drought such as the effects on a regions’ climatology, increases in food insecurity and food prices and the integration of drought with factors such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic have led government to introduce various policies dealing, in particular, with drought risk. By means of examining government documents, journal articles and media publications the methods government has employed to reduce the impacts of drought are traced. The way government has handled drought in the recent past, such as during 1991/92 and 2003/04, with regard to maize farming and vulnerable populations, is of great importance for learning lessons in drought-risk reduction for the future. Lessons Government has learnt include shifting drought management policy and those lost from recent drought episodes include improving early warning systems and incorporating HIV/AIDS in drought strategies. The research also presents suggestions for alleviating the impacts of drought and for better managing the events. The Government, with at least a twenty year history of drought situations and drought governance, provides an interesting range of experience that can present a useful set of cases that may yield valuable insights into the future.