Thank you, Madam Speaker, and thank you to the hon member for the question. The impact of climate change on water resources is a global issue that requires a commonly shared vision and concerted efforts among all nations of the world. If prediction by scientists is correct that the rate of climate change will be more rapid than previously expected, then droughts, floods and other extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense.
Extreme variation in South Africa's climate has been a reality for the country, with dramatic swings between drought and floods. Over the past few years, and this past year in particular, the extreme climatic conditions have been strongly accentuated.
Recent studies that we have conducted reveal that air temperatures in South Africa are rising; that rainfall patterns are changing causing less rain in some areas and floods in others, as we have seen here in some parts of the Western Cape, and that there is an increase in adverse climatic events such as hail.
The consequence of the warmer temperatures and the drier conditions has been that this year we have experienced the worst-recorded series of veld and forest fires. There are also implications for the growth of alien invasive species, which are thriving in the current climatic conditions and there are also implications for water quality.
In tackling global warming, the government encourages a more holistic and comprehensive approach that takes into account the impact of climate change on tourism, health, food security and the ecosystems since water is a cross- cutting commodity that is central to all developmental initiatives. Hence, our mitigation efforts should be coupled with adaptation measures to build resilience against climate change and its effects.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has been focused on development and implementation of adaptation strategies to ensure sustainability of water resources.
What has been our response to climate change? Firstly, we have had to understand the problem by conducting research and improving our monitoring capacity. For example, if climate change alters the magnitude, the timing and the distribution of storms that produce floods, this would have implications for our existing water resource infrastructure.
Secondly, we are developing water resource management strategies that take into account the impact of climate change. Thirdly, we are participating in national and international structures, amongst other things, to ensure that water issues are adequately addressed during climate-change discussions. Fourthly, we are continually having a dialogue with internal and external stakeholders so that we can have a holistic response to climate change and the development of adaptation strategies by the water sector. It may therefore become necessary for us to update our national water resources strategy to accommodate the anticipated effects of climate change.
Possible adaptation strategies in response to climate change are that we are regularly and continually increasing the water-shortage capacity of our reservoirs and our dams by raising dam walls, by building new dams and reservoirs, and by increasing the width of the pipelines, amongst other things. This approach would be in addition to our existing bill strategy to cater for the millions of South Africans who still remain without access to clean water. Thank you, Madam Speaker.