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KZN floods: how to prevent future infrastructure collapse

Flood damage in KwaSanti near Pinetown. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi African News Agency(ANA)

Flood damage in KwaSanti near Pinetown. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 10, 2022

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Municipalities should be doing more to mitigate the devastating effects of floods that have led to loss of lives, damaged roads and homes in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Slindile Maphumulo, the South African Local Government Association’s (Salga) senior advisor on climate change, said that while billions of rand had been pledged at the SA Investment Conferences, the focus was not on alleviating the effects of climate change.

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“On paper we have beautiful plans including billions (of rand) to upgrade infrastructure around the country, particularly in the local government space. The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee has been tasked with accelerating the national infrastructure plan, but the main question is whether all this infrastructure is climate responsive, does it mitigate the lives of people and does it mitigate the impact on roads and houses of climate change.”

Maphumulo, speaking during a GCIS webinar on the impact of climate change and changing weather patterns on society, said municipalities were still adopting traditional methods of town planning, with a lack of appreciation for climate change or the environment.

“Municipal SCM (supply chain management) processes still allow for inexperienced service providers to construct poor roads, bridges and housing for vulnerable communities,” she said.

Maphumulo said most municipalities were not climate responsive and focused on infrastructure that was not necessarily mitigating climate impacts.

What was needed was to build better and to use renewable energy sources, converting waste to energy and recycling instead of creating pollution and filling landfill sites, she said.

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