By Ndaizivei Majaka

Mutare is likely to face severe water shortages as the effects of climate change begin to take effect on its main water source of Pungwe River according to experts.

According to research results by De Wit and Stankiewicz the river will experience a “reduction of annual rainfall by approximately 10%, with no significant variability between sub-basins.

“There will be a delay of the start of the rainy season by approximately one month while the river flow will decrease available water for the entire Pungwe River basin due to a decrease in precipitation and an increase in evaporation.

“River flow is particularly reduced during the end of the dry/start of the wet season (50–60% reduction) which could imply severe consequences for agricultural production,” the report says.

Water supply to the City of Mutare is from three sources, Small Bridge Dam, Odzani, and the Pungwe River.

However, Pungwe provides better quality water resources equivalent to the combined quantity supplied by the other two.

This makes the river an important source for the city, but climate change threatens the availability of water resources in the town.

According to the research, sustaining a steady supply of water to urban communities is of importance in a period that is characterised by rapid urban population growth, a global pandemic, and a changing climate that threatens the availability of the resource from its sources.

Extreme precipitation is projected to increase significantly, especially in regions that are already relatively wet under present climate conditions, whereas dry spells are predicted to increase particularly in regions characterized by dry conditions in present-day climate.

By using projected precipitation changes de Wit and Stankiewicz estimate that a decrease in perennial drainage will significantly affect present surface water across 25% of Africa by the end of this century.

Southern Africa has also been pinpointed as one of the regions in the world whose food security will be negatively affected if sufficient adaptation measures towards the impacts of climate change are not taken.

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