The world is in the grip of extreme climate change, seeing the El Niño weather pattern creating extreme weather across the globe, with South Africa by no means being unaffected.
The world is in the grip of extreme climate change, seeing the El Niño weather pattern creating extreme weather across the globe, with South Africa by no means being unaffected. Among the main concerns are weather anomalies, ranging from extreme drought in some areas – seeing KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State provinces now classified as official disaster areas; to fierce storms and flooding in other areas such as the Eastern and Western Cape. These occurrences have massive effects on South Africans, from both a physical and economic perspective.
“The current drought is having a profound effect on food production and prices in South Africa, while stormy weather in other areas have caused damage to property due to, among other elements, flooding and windstorms,” explains Lizette Erasmus, Head of Insurance Expertise at IntegriSure. “The Department of Environmental Affairs have allocated R300 million towards implementing relief measures against the immediate effects of the climate crisis stating that these events in South Africa will continue, and will even dramatically change our landscape,” she continues. “With this in mind, it is critical for South Africans to take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of their personal property against potential damages due to the continuing extreme weather across the country.”
Erasmus advises that individuals should ensure they stay abreast of weather reports and warnings, particularly if they are situated in high risk areas. “In cases of drought and low water supplies, it is up to individual South Africans to use and store water sparingly and responsibly, as scarcity of this precious resource is a major concern.” Erasmus recommends storing an emergency supply of drinking water, should restrictions or cuts take place.
With the current El Niño emergence expected to be the strongest ever recorded, flood protection has also become a top priority. “For both high and low risk areas, flood protection is necessary to safeguard against the cost of flood damage due to torrential rains or water level rises along the coast and other large bodies of water. Preparedness is key, as it becomes exponentially more difficult to mitigate risks once a storm or flood has already hit,” warns Erasmus. “It is also strongly advisable to ensure you have sufficient flood cover as part of your insurance policy.”
Erasmus goes on to advise homeowners to ensure that roofs are properly maintained and repaired before a storm hits, gutters are cleared of any blockages, emergency flood materials such as plastic sheeting or sandbags are stored in a safe and accessible place, and that trees near to buildings are trimmed. “As always, using reputable, certified professionals for any building and maintenance is crucial, as damages due to defective workmanship will not be covered by insurance providers.”
“Different areas of our country are experiencing contrasting, yet equally damaging, weather events, which could end up costing the consumer and government if not properly managed,” Erasmus concludes.