South Africa: Government to Invest in Climate-Proof Infrastructure

Deputy President David Mabuza says government will invest in climate-resilient infrastructure following the recent devastating floods that caused loss of life and devastated roads and drainage systems.

The Deputy President said this when he responded to oral questions during a sitting of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“In the medium to long-term, particularly for purposes of better preparedness in the vulnerable areas, the response will be to invest in climate-proof infrastructure, including climate-sensitive drainage systems.

“Furthermore, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency’s technical support services to municipalities will ensure that spatial allocation is reshaped, resulting in better access to safer settlements, economic prospects, and long-term infrastructure provision,” he said.

Mabuza said the destruction to infrastructure and loss of life in the flood-affected areas in parts of the country means as government rebuilds, it has to ensure that it does so “better and differently”.

“Most importantly, local government will need to communicate information to populations living in flood-prone areas in the future, as well as provide early warning systems and improved spatial design that is sensitive to environmental conditions, in order to build resilience,” he said.

Mabuza said government was mindful that the current spatial distribution patterns and water management systems were not designed to handle severe natural disasters as experienced in the affected provinces.

This called for a rigorous re-design of the country’s spatial arrangements and for the proper maintenance of drainage systems to prevent it from clogging up.

“Prior to these unfortunate floods government, through the Department of Water and Sanitation, had already started a process to investigate the potential impact of projected climate change disasters that are caused by extreme rainfall and tropical cyclones.

“To this end, government has put in place interventions for post-floods reconstruction of the infrastructure in affected provinces.

“A war room by the Department of Water and Sanitation has been established as part of short-term interventions to assist vulnerable communities with water supply and sanitation systems.

“This will address current challenge to communities in affected areas, while essential services are being replaced and repaired.”

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