Growing water scarcity, an increase in the population, the degradation of shared freshwater ecosystems and competing demands for shrinking natural resources have the potential for creating bilateral and multilateral conflicts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. This is according to Dr Gift Manase, a CSIR water resource economist and expert on economic dimensions of climate change.
South Africa is a dry country with a mean annual rainfall of about 490 mm (half the world average) of which only 9% is converted to river run-off. The overall impact of climate change on water resources is uncertain, and will vary significantly from place to place within South Africa. The Department of Science and Technology commissioned the CSIR to project manage a SA Risk and Vulnerability Atlas; with key inputs from South African institutions and research groups. This could be an important tool to help local government plan for the most serious risks they face locally.
Governments are faced with issues of increasing socio-ecological complexities around environmental sustainability and global change, which require them to make decisions and develop policies that have the potential to impact substantially on society and economies, and South Africa is no exception.
In a first-of-its-kind study in South Africa into water demand forecasting using computational intelligence techniques, CSIR researchers Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo and Ishmael Msiza have found that the modelling technique based on how the human brain performs a particular task, can be very useful. They found that an artificial neural network (ANN) 'outsmarts' a support vector machine (SVM), which is a classifier derived from statistical learning theory.