Weather patterns across the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) have shifted significantly with higher temperatures, more intense rainfall events, increasing the risk of flooding and causing severe damage to infrastructure.
“The extreme fluctuations in weather patterns underscore the unpredictability of climate change in future. Joburg will become hotter and wetter,” says Executive Mayor of City of Johannesburg Councillor Mpho Parks Tau. “The choices we make today, will determine how liveable and resilient our city will be in future.”
The City is cognisant of its ageing infrastructure, capacity constraints and backlogs, and will spend more than R110 billion on the provision of infrastructure over the next ten years. Over the next three years, more than R30 billion will be allocated to the replacement and upgrading of ageing infrastructure as well as new infrastructure. In the 2013/14 financial year alone, R7.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure which represents almost a double up from the R4,6 billion in 2012/13. The 2014/15 financial will allocate a further almost double up of R13,5 billion.
As Joburg confirmed its readiness to host the prestigious C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit on 4 to 6 February 2014, “the City is aware of the responsibility to ensure that capital investment supports a low carbon, resource efficient strategy, coupled with the ability to adapt to climate change impacts,” says Mayor Tau.
The City continues to attract migrants seeking economic opportunity, access to services, political asylum and refuge. Climate change is anticipated to increase the pace of migration as people face natural resource scarcity and collapse of agricultural livelihoods due to rising temperatures and extreme weather events. The projected population for 2030 was 5,8 million people when the Growth and Development Strategy was developed. With the known outcome of the 2011 SA Census population count, the projected population for 2030 is new set as 6,9 million people. Besides the increase from 4,4 million people in 2011 to 6,9 million people (an increase of 2,5 million people), it also highlights the fact that we have to make provision for an additional 1,1 million people that we did not plan for two years ago.
Johannesburg is faced with the challenge of providing housing, services and opportunities for this growing urban population. Infrastructure development is fundamental to many of the City’s priority programmes. In particular, the commitment to ensuring that:
•All residents have access to higher levels of basic services;
•To reduce the high levels of water and electricity losses with refurbished and smart infrastructure;
•To develop new generation infrastructure that will compliment the supply of water, electricity and fuel supply within the City;
•To ensure more sustainable use infrastructure through a more compact City form through the implementation of the Corridors of Freedom;
•Increased awareness to save water and energy and to minimize waste;
•Increased access to public transportation and mobility options, and
•Food security programmes.
The above-mentioned all require the investment into more appropriate infrastructure services, and also into enabling infrastructure, as a catalyst for private investment and economic growth.
Climate change will affect Joburg’s infrastructure in a number of ways:
•Changes in weather patterns and climate pose direct risks to infrastructure in terms of potential damage from extreme weather events.
•Infrastructure, which is dependent on scarce natural resources or fossil fuels, may become obsolete or very expensive to run and maintain.
•There is an imperative to provide infrastructure, which reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and does not add to the carbon footprint of the city.
•Climate change impacts, which drive increased in-migration to Johannesburg, will also necessitate the provision of additional infrastructure capacity to meet growing demand, despite demand management efforts.
•There is also a strong indication that the additional population that will migrate to the City will be primarily in the lower income group, which demands municipal services that must be more affordable.
In terms of infrastructure planning, old infrastructure need to be upgraded with the assistance of relevant engineering expertise to withstand extreme weather conditions and climate-related disasters such as flooding, heat-waves, drought, scarce resource supply, and service delivery disruptions - with the appropriate monitoring systems in place. Corridors of Freedom (Transit Oriented Development) consolidate the infrastructure requirements and promote a compact urban form and greater urban efficiencies.
A total of 69 families received Informal Disaster Resilient Structures in Setjwetla Informal Settlement, Alexandra, one of the oldest townships in the City, where homes are at constant flood risk on the banks of the Jukskei River. Extensive road surfacing and re-surfacing has been completed in several areas including Soweto and Rosebank to address rain water damage that has eroded the roads over time without the necessary repair and maintenance work that was necessary at the time.
In terms of water management, groundwater systems, flooding and drainage problems are affecting all parts of the City, including lower income settlements in the far south, Soweto, and middle to higher income areas in the north and western parts of the city. A number of impoundment and river rehabilitation programmes have been implemented, including in particular in the Upper Jukskei sub catchment. Rehabilitation of wetlands and watercourses have also been implemented in Zola and Mapetla in Soweto.
“Increased flooding and storm-water management challenges will be seen in the context of changes to the whole natural drainage system resulting from urban development,” says Mayor Tau.
The City has also through its entity Johannesburg Water, made significant progress in the implementation of pipe replacement pressure management measures, pre-paid meters, and awareness programmes to reduce Unaccounted for Water. Progress has also been made in respect of the Re-use of Water – an example being the provision of treated water from the Northern Wastewater Treatment Works, to Kelvin Power Station. Johannesburg Water has also been partnering on two private sector initiatives pertaining to rainwater harvesting – involving Sasol and Vodacom.
As part of its efforts to become more energy resilient, Johannesburg has invested in and implemented a number of energy initiatives and projects, including:
•Waste to Energy projects
•Energy efficiency measures at Waste Water Treatment Works
Solar water heating programmes have been implemented in residential developments, reducing the consumption of electricity but also providing more affordable, carbon reducing infrastructure for residents. The Cosmo City Climate Proofing Project involved the provision of low pressure solar water geysers to over 1000 low income households including the provision of energy efficiency lights and planting of fruit trees. The solar geyser programme has also been extended through the City Power Solar Water Geyser Programme (SWHP).
In conclusion, the City has also identified the Rea Vaya BRT, the landfill gas to Energy initiatives, the solar water geyser programme as suitable for Clean Development Mechanism CDM registration with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Board for purposes of qualifying for Carbon Credits. “Climate-proofing of infrastructure will bring new technologies and opportunities to grow the Green Economy with associated jobs in support of economic sustainability,” says Mayor Tau.
For further information on C40 Cities Mayors Summit, please visit http://c40summitjohannesburg.org/