While KwaZulu-Natal is reeling from new floods that have already claimed one life, thousands are still reeling from April’s disaster, trying to clear the wreckage of their homes and lives .
Sandile Mbatha, a senior manager responsible for research and policy advocacy in the eThekwini community, revealed the shocking numbers showed the magnitude of every heartbreaking human story from the province and said data-driven decision-making is the only way forward.
Speak on the Ground Governments for Sustainability (known as the ICLEI) conference on Monday, he said that as of May 9, 390 people have been confirmed dead, while 60 are still missing.
“The chances of It is virtually impossible to find any of those 60 alive at this point,” said e r.
A total of 86 districts were affected and a staggering 23,298 homes were destroyed, along with 4 roads damaged or destroyed.The floods affected 9,091 people in care homes, home to some of the most vulnerable. Of children in the region, 13,153 were affected and 34,689 adults.
“We’re talking about tremendous infrastructure disruption,” he said, ” Then how do we build the same way in the future when we know most of it has been swept away?”
Mbatha said a big problem with urban infrastructure in general is that it doesn’t work with nature.
“If you build a pipe across a stream, it will wash away, even if it’s a place that almost never has flooding,” he said. But, he adds, collecting data is a useful part of moving forward.
“It’s what we do. Data is the basis for sustainable infrastructure decisions, and in eThekwini we integrate our city-level data to make decisions.”
He said that “without a concerted effort, the government transforming institutions,” they are designed to be inefficient.
He said a major stumbling block for all cities is the “layered decision-making processes that need to take place, even when you are are wanting to buy a pen”.
To work against the clock of climate change and a growing urban population, delays can lead to wrong decisions being made when all levels of decision -creation is complete.
He urged officials in every city to collect data and use it to maximum effect. “Data gives not only policymakers, but also citizens an insight into the situation in their city,” he said.
According to the UN Environment Program ( UNEP), catastrophic events such as those observed in eThekwini are becoming more frequent as the climate crisis deepens.
“Climate change is a global phenomenon that will increasingly affect cities and lives”, so UNEP, “Rising global temperatures are causing sea levels to rise, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms, and increasing the spread of tropical diseases. All of this has a costly impact on basic services, infrastructure, housing, livelihoods and the health of cities.”
At the same time, cities are responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions , with “transport and buildings being among the largest contributors”.