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  • 1. Climate change risks and recommendations for adaptations: The case of Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project, Swaziland. Ray M. Gama & Musa MasilelaBACKGROUNDThe Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP) is a poverty alleviation initiative located in theLower Usuthu river basin which is the largest river basin in Swaziland with an area of 12, 559 km2. Thestudy area (Siphofaneni) is located in the lowveld agro-climatic region of Swaziland, between latitudes26° 40 60 S and longitudes 31° 40 60 E with an altitude of 164m above sea level. The main goal ofLUSIP is to improve the standard of living of the people in the project area, who are currently the poorestin the country. The project will achieve this goal by transforming the local economy from subsistencefarming into sustainable commercial agriculture. In achieving this, the project will significantly contributeto the achievement of the millennium development goals (MDGs). The Lower Usuthu SmallholderIrrigation Project was commenced in December 2003 and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. Theproject was founded to address the lack of irrigation water for poor farmers as the dry season river flow ofthe Lower Usuthu River has already been fully allocated to existing irrigators. The LUSIP project willaddress this constraint by storing flood water in an off-river, 155Mm3 Reservoir at Lubovane that willprovide irrigation water for an overall 11, 500 ha after completion of the second phase in 2015. Threedams have been constructed at Mhlathuzane River, Golome River and Saddle dam to form an off riverreservoir to store flood water diverted from wet season flows in the Usuthu River.The Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project is a E1.4 billion poverty alleviation investment by theSwaziland Government. It is prudent it is used optimally and guarded against climate as a risk. This paperaims at collating relevant climate change studies which relevant to the project and makerecommendations.INTRODUCTIONIt has been argued that the recent climate change is attributed to anthropogenic activities. It is here to stayas evidenced by impacts globally, continentally and at local scales. According to (Conway, 2008) thecurrent Sahelian drought has resulted in the Sahelian Sudanese and Guinean ecological zones shifting 25-35 km further south, with loss of valuable grassland, savanna and other resources that the indigenouspeople rely upon. One of the most severe consequences has been the Darfur conflict in the Sudan, whichoriginated from clashes between pastoralists and sedentary farmers over depleted water and otherresources. Droughts and floods have hit hard in Zambia and Mozambique resulting to loss of lives and
  • 2. property. The results are in many respects irreversible. Southern Africa, Swaziland inclusive had6.5million hungry people in April 2009 according the (WFP Report, 2009). The food basket, South Africawill have a twenty percent reduction in cereal production in the next 15-20 years.Swaziland is affected adversely by climate change already. However, it is not known by how muchprecipitation, potential evapotranspiration, temperature and runoff are going to change due to thegreenhouse gases effect (Matondo et al., 2004). These climate variables (rainfall, temperature), are key indetermining the risk posed by climate change to all life forms. This in effect, implies it is not very clearwhat impacts climate change would have on a variety of crops.This paper aims to collate available information on climate change impacts, with particular emphasis onLUSIP smallholder agriculture. It will also do a preliminary assessment of the current LUSIP projectrelated activities and its relevance to climate change. Thirdly, it will prepare preliminaryrecommendations to improve, discontinue, modify, enhance or introduce new activities to improvesmallholder farmers’ resilience, and propose relevant mitigations and adaptation measures.OBJECTIVES ‐ To debate relevant research findings on climate change in Swaziland and relating it with LUSIP in the Usuthu River Basin ‐ To do a preliminary assessment of the current project related activities and its relevance to climate change. ‐ To recommend climate change response strategies for LUSIP.LITERATURE REVIEWIt has been argued that the recent climate change is attributed to anthropogenic activities. Humaninterventions are causing the earth to change too fast and this affects adaptability of many livingorganisms. According UNEP and UNFCCC (2002) the earth temperature has increased by 0.6o C and thisis attributed to increase in green house gases exacerbated by emission from human activities. Green housegases control energy flow in the atmosphere by absorbing infrared radiation emitted by the earth. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket to keep the earth some 20oC warmer than it would be if atmospherecontained only oxygen and nitrogen (UNEP and UNFCCC, 2002). Global average temperature ispredicted to increase by 1.4-5.8oC by year 2100 (UNEP and UNFCCC, 2002).
  • 3. The 2001, IPPC report on climate change reveals an increase in mean sea level by 10-20cm and furtherpredicts a further increase by 9-88cm by year 2100. In 2001, the carbon concentration in the atmospherewas 367ppm and it is predicted to increase to 490-1260ppm by year 2100 (UNEP and UNFCCC, 2002).Carbon dioxide is currently responsible for over 60% of enhanced green house effect. This is promoted bythe burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. Power stations release aerosols which are microscopicparticles from sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides released from agriculture also contribute as green housegases. The impacts of climate change will involve an increase in droughts in some regions especially inthe African continent and floods, hurricanes and monsoons will be experienced in other regions especiallyin the northern hemisphere. Africa and Asia is likely to experience reduction in rainfall and increase insevere droughts. Globally, the green house gases effect is expected to increase average precipitation by 5-15% and Evapotranspiration by 10-20%.METHODOLOGYThe aim is to collate local published and non-published research findings on climate change for the studyarea. Siphofaneni is the LUSIP project development area. These are debated with the aim ofrecommending coping mechanisms and strategies for the long-term sustainability of the project.FINDINGSReduction of run-off in the Usuthu River BasinAccording to (Matondo, et. al., 2004), there will be a 4% decrease in annual runoff same as the oneobserved by (Mhlanga, 2010) the annual run-off is for the Usuthu River Basin which drains the studyarea. Water is harvested during summer to fill the Lubovane resevoiur. Such a reduction implies areduction in floods, leading to less water stored than normal and eventually affecting irrigation demands.The magnitude of the impacts caused by the reduction has to be established. Otherwise, according to(IPCC, 2001), Sub-Saharan Africa is the one region, in the world, where per-capita food production iseither in decline, or roughly constant at a level that is less than adequate (Scholes and Biggs, 2004).According to (Mabuza et al, 2007) Swaziland is among the sub-Saharan countries that have been worstaffected by prevailing droughts over the past five to six years. During the 2002 to 2005 productionseasons, cereal food aid played a major role in filling Swaziland’s maize gap following Government’sappeal to the international community to assist in alleviating the negative production impacts of2001/2002 and successive droughts that were coupled with erratic rains. The Siphofaneni community ispresently relying from food aid which emanates from erratic rains leading to poor production. It is
  • 4. assumed that erratic rains are a result of climate change. SWADE has come to shift the paradymn withwater provision and managing the climate change risk.Effects on the Lubovane resevoiurAccording to (Mhlanga, 2010) using after running Watbal Climate Change models, it is predicted that ona dry-year condition the reservoir will not fill up but a live storage level will be reached. There will be noserious challenges to meeting the gross demand for the project. For such a scenario no serious shortageswill be experienced but water should still be managed properly assuming 25% initial storage is availableat the beginning of the season in 2075. If not, then there will be an imbalance in demand/supply.Soil Water Availability implications for the LUSIP AreaWhile there is considerable consensus among climate scientists on these general outlines of climatechange, there is much less agreement on how climate change will affect a given location, using theHaDCM3, model, both the 2050 A2 and B2 water deficiency projections by Knox et. al. (2010) show thatthe area around Siphofaneni and Big Bend (LUSIP development area) will lie in two regions projected tohave soil moisture deficiency of 700 – 800mm and 800 – 900mm compared to the current 600 – 700 and700 – 800mm, respectively. (Knox et al., 2010) also concluded that future irrigation needs would increaseby 20–22% in order to produce a unit weight of sucrose equivalent to current optimum levels ofproduction.It is evident that strict water management and sustainable land uses are important issues to be consideredand factored into all planning and management regimes in the project area.In summary, the Usuthu River Basin is going to be affected by climate change predicted to be 4%, theLubovane reservoir might take time to fill during such conditions which might need proper managementand projected soil moisture deficiency from 700-800mm is predicted to conclude a 20-22% increase inirrigation demand. Science informs policy. These findings are supposed to assist implementing agents andthe GoS in evaluating progress made in coping mechanisms and also coming up with new ones to beimplemented in the PDA.RECOMMENDATIONSReduction of run-off by 4%
  • 5. • The system for harvesting water should be real-time. This calls for the installation of a telemetry system or telecommunication system that will report how much water is flowing at GS6 to indicate how much water can be diverted real-time. GS9 might also need to be included so that we establish realtime the flow to Mozambique as per the Tripartite Agreement. This calls for a centralized system from the intake (Bulungapoort) weir to GS9• Introduction of variable water permits (water rationing) . This mandates the reduction of water rights during low flows. It is also enshrined in the water Act that permits shall be reduced during droughts.• Water Harvesting for potable water supply during the rainy season.Increase in irrigation demand by 20-22%• Use of water saving crops other than cropping the whole PDA with sugarcane. This also in line with the current LUSIP diversification strategy.• The use of water saving irrigation systems where possibleEffects on the Lubovane reservoir• Irrigation water rationing - During dry season when there is zero diversion and reservoir levels are low, rationing of water can be an option until the following wet season when floods occurs• There should be strong environmental attention given to the servitude to minimise erosion and sedimentation coming from human activity. The sediments load lowers the depth of Dams and hence their capacity over time.• Water quality should be monitored as part of demand management. Polluted is not avalable for use.General• LUSIP should develop a Climate change adaptation strategy.• Establishment of a Climate change task team.Development of a capacity building framework for local Farmers: These interventions would help inMaximizing local knowledge. The project is well positioned to extend the current new farmer extensionservices provided to include imparting knowledge to small-scale farmers in coping with and adapting toclimate change. Additionally, small-scale farmers will in the long-run stand to benefit from inculcatingnew techniques that can help mitigate the effects of climate change.ReferencesJ.W. Knox, J.A. Rodríguez Díaz, D.J. Nixon, M. Mkhwanazi (2010): A preliminary assessment of climatechange impacts on sugarcane in Swaziland. Agricultural Systems 103 (2010) 63–72.
  • 6. Mhlanga (2010). Evaluation of the impact of climate change on the inflow to lubovane reservoir in theusuthu river basin, SwazilandGill M., Smith P. & Wilkinson J. M. (2009). Mitigating climate change: the role of domestic livestock.animal, 4, pp 323-333.doi:10.1017/S1751731109004662.Jurandir Zullo Junior, Pinto Silveira H. S., & Assad E. D. (2006). Impact assessment study of climatechange on agricultural zoning. Meteorological Applications, 13, pp 69-80doi:10.1017/S135048270600257X.Matondo, J., Peter G. & Msibi K. M., (2004).Evaluation of the impact of climate change on hydrologyand water resources in Swaziland: Part I. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 29:1181–1191.World Bank Institute, (2010) M.J et al (2007). The impact of food aid on maize prices and production in Swaziland.UNEP and UNFCCC (2002). Climate Change Toolkit. and, Switzerland.Conway, G. (2008). The Science of Climate Change in Africa: Impacts and AdaptationWFP Swaziland Operations Brief of November 2009.  Scholes and Biggs (eds). (2004). Ecosystem Services in Southern. Africa: a regional assessment.