Assessment of Climate Change Impact on Water Resources in Eswatini

Assessment of Climate Change Impact on Water Resources in Eswatini

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The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini has ratified the Paris Agreement that seeks to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels. In addition, Eswatini has submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The NDC is considered as a policy document which has an overall objective of putting the country on a Low carbon climate resilient pathway and aimed at assisting the country to contribute towards the achievement of the global temperature goal.

As a developing country with about 69% of the population living on less than $1, the Nationally Determined Contribution for Eswatini to Paris Agreement on Climate change emphasizes adaptation measures while at the same time reducing greenhouse emissions by 20% by 2030 from the business as usual baseline of 2010. eSwatini’s development challenges are exacerbated by its vulnerability to external and climate-related shocks, including floods and droughts which negatively impact on health, food security and productive economic activity while disproportionately affecting the rural poor. Mitigation and adaptation measures are important given the strong role of the agriculture sector, as well as the large share of the population in rural areas relying on subsistence agriculture.

The surface water resources of eSwatini are estimated at 4.5 km3/year with 42 percent originating from South Africa. The five main river systems in the country are the Komati, the Lomati, the Mbuluzi, the Usutu and the Ngwavuma. The Komati and the Lomati river systems are found in the north of the country and both originate in South Africa and flow out of eSwatini back into South Africa before entering Mozambique. The Mbuluzi River rises in eSwatini and flows into Mozambique. The Usutu River, together with major tributaries originate in South Africa, and flows out into Mozambique, forming the border between Mozambique and South Africa. The Ngwavuma River lies in the south of the country. It rises in eSwatini and flows into South Africa before entering Mozambique. The sixth river system contributing to surface water in eSwatini is the Pongola River, which is found on the South African side south of Swaziland. The Jozini dam, built on the South African side, floods some land on the eSwatini side and its water is available for use in eSwatini. 

Most recently, in 2015/16 eSwatini experienced a severe El Niño-induced drought, characterized by below normal rainfall, prolonged dry spells and above normal temperatures. The drought was the worst experienced by the country in 50 years, leading to a 30-40 percent drop in production of maize (the staple food crop), extremely low water levels in the main Hawane dam serving the capital, drying up of rural boreholes and forcing the closure of many schools (affecting nearly 200,000 students and teachers, in rural and urban areas).    During the drought, persistent severe water shortages both in rural and urban areas (affecting many of the 300,000 people facing food shortages) caused the Government to ration water and many communities to rely on external water supply support. The drought had long-term impacts on ground water supply (of which 78 percent of the rural population depends on) due to the poor recharge of aquifers. Health facilities and schools experienced compromised service delivery or temporary closure due to lack of water, and an increase in the number of diarrhea cases was reported. Climate change in Swaziland is expected to lead to overall warming and drying, with a greater frequency and intensity of droughts as well as floods. The negative impacts on the agricultural and water sector are likely to be considerable.  Following COP-21, attention has turned from developing and submitting NDCs to revising and updating the NDCs for a more ambitious and inclusive effective implementation of the contributions. UNDP plays a central role in building countries’ capacity to strengthen and implement NDCs, given its previous INDC support experience, its technical expertise in related areas, and its on-the-ground presence in over 170 countries.  As part of enhancing climate action in Eswatini in line with her commitment to Paris Agreement,  Government has embarked on the NDC revision process under the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP) with support from development partners that include, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Commonwealth Secretariat, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Resources Institute (WRI); and NDC Partnership Support Unit.

UNDP through its Climate Promise Initiative is supporting Eswatini to revise her NDC commitment including; i) Building Political Will, whole of government and whole of society ownership; ii) Review, align and update existing targets, policies and measures; iii) Incorporate new sectors and/or GHGs; iv) Assess costs and Investment opportunities for attaining targets; v) establish mechanisms to monitor progress & strengthen transparency; and vi) Preparing the revised NDC document.

It is against this background that UNDP is seeking a competent consultant to support Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs in collaboration with other NDC Partnership members undertake situation analysis of climate change impact on water resources including water usage to enhance adaptation ambition in the NDC.


Location: Homebased
Organization: UNDP
Deadline: September 1, 2020
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