Drought is endemic to the southern African region. Changes in sea surface temperatures together with realignments of pressure systems can, in some cases, trigger a severe drought period such as occurred in the early 1980s and the 1990s. The impacts of such droughts usually result in severe constraints on food production at regional, national, and local levels impacting on GDP, commercial food supply, and water availability. Reductions in water aggravate such problems creating ripple effects that touch on several industries, activities, and communities.
Drought, however, has many facets and it is often the poorly documented cases, such as household vulnerability to drought in poor rural and urban areas, that require much more careful research. Research and understanding of the multidimensional nature of drought, the complex coping strategies in the face of drought, and mitigation strategies are required if effective mitigation and management of droughts is to occur. Research that has been conducted and available vulnerability assessments indicate that drought often unveils many "everyday" realities that are rooted in other factors such as poverty, development, and the complex interlinkages among economic, social, political, and environmental issues. Land degradation, urban and perturban growth, and the impact of HIV/AIDS are some of the factors that heighten vulnerability to the vagaries of weather and climate in Africa. The response to such problems therefore has to be a multifaceted one in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.
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