Climate change implications for water resources in the Limpopo River Basin

This paper analyzes the effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources in the Limpopo River Basin of Southern Africa, using a semidistributed hydrological model and the Water Simulation Module of the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT). The analysis focuses on the effects of climate change on hydrology and irrigation in parts of the four riparian countries within the basin: Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Results show that water resources of the Limpopo River Basin are already stressed under today’s climate conditions. Projected water management and infrastructure changes are expected to improve the situation by 2030 if current climate conditions continue into the future. However, under the four climate change scenarios studied here, water supply situations are expected to worsen considerably by 2030. Assessing hydrological impacts of climate change is crucial given that expansion of irrigated areas has been postulated as a key adaptation strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. Such expansion will need to take into account future changes in water availability in African river basins.

Author: 
Zhu, Tingju
Ringler, Claudia
Published date: 
2010
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
961
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