Umphilo waManzi (isiZulu for Water is Life), a non-profit organization based in South Africa, was formed with the objective of helping to improve the livelihoods of and services to poor communities through research, advocacy, liaison, and accessible communication. Over the past two years it has been implementing the Durban component of a multi-city study on climate change and water adaptation, alongside non-profit partners in Maputo and Nairobi, with support from York University and the IDRC’s Climate Change and Adaptation in Africa.
During the recent COP17 climate talks in Durban, the organization conducted a water reality tour to two peri-rural areas. Its aim was to profile how poor communities feel the heavy impacts of climate change through water, which underlines the pressing need for a binding agreement on emissions targets. This tour showed how seemingly abstract discussions on climate change are rooted in local people’s experiences of a dramatically changing rainfall and weather events, which impact on water supply and livelihoods.
The water reality tour was covered by the Mail & Guardian Online
, a news website which has a monthly readership of about 650,000 from South Africa and around the world.
To see a just under 4-minute video on the tour that features an interview with me and my Umphilo waManzi colleague MaDudu Khumalo, please go to http://mg.co.za/multimedia/2011-12-07-bridge-over-troubled-water/
. The report covers the need to protect water resources given the impacts of climate change, the support needed by communities for adaptation strategies given changing weather patterns (including flash flooding affecting the many homes built on flood plains), and the assistance needed for alternatives to dumping waste in the local river, all the while recognizing the answers are with the people.