Early warning systems on floods are not enough; climate crisis literacy saves lives – experts
The extreme rainfall and floods that hit KwaZulu-Natal in April highlight the importance of the relationship between the government and residents.
"If we had told you there was this major flood coming, what would you have done differently?”
This was the question Geoff Tooley, senior manager in the Coastal Stormwater and Catchment Management Department at the eThekwini Municipality, wants to pose to South Africans following the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal in April and May.
Sutherland noted it was important for the state to mobilise its resources to support what locals were doing.
The project at Quarry Road is a work in progress, and they are learning as they go along – but it worked. Despite being a high-risk area, no lives were lost to drowning in this settlement during the April floods.
A huge reason so many lives had been lost and displaced in the KZN disaster was not because of the extreme rainfall, but because the infrastructure had not been prepared for it.
Sutherland said that along with understanding (geographical literacy) we need building regulations and controls on developing lands.
Sutherland suggested the municipality needed to work in partnership with the traditional authority and residents to develop infrastructure in those areas.
“Across South Africa the poor and the most vulnerable absorb the cost of social unrest, they absorb the cost of Covid. And now they’re absorbing the cost of flooding. It’s just so much for people to bear.”