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A South African scientist has warned that the country must start adapting to climate change and do more research to understand the threats posed by the phenomenon. The warning came from Roland Schulze of the University of KwaZulu-Natal who is one a team of researchers studying the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural and water resources in South Africa. The first phase of the study — funded by the country's Water Research Commission — is due to end in April 2005.

The study's preliminary results suggest that the Western Cape region of South Africa will lose ten per cent of its water resources during the next decade, says Schulze. Other threats posed by climate change in South Africa are increased incidence of bilharzia, cholera and malaria, and more floods and droughts.

Being prepared for environmental catastrophe was also the theme of a warning issued last week by the International Federation of the Red Cross / Crescent (IFRC). Marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October, the IFRC said that since 2000 a series of disasters had left a "trail of destruction" across southern Africa. Many governments in the region do not invest in disaster preparedness because some disasters are one-off events, according to IFRC's senior disaster management officer for Southern Africa.

Link to full Sunday Independent news story on Roland Schulze

Link to full IRIN news story on the International Federation of the Red Cross / Crescent