Original Research

Analysis of trends, recurrences, severity and frequency of droughts using standardised precipitation index: Case of OR Tambo District Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Melezwa Khamisa, Simbarashe Ndhleve, Motebang D.V. Nakin, Asabonga Mngeni, Hlekani M. Kabiti
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 14, No 1 | a1147 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v14i1.1147 | © 2022 Melezwa Nkamisa, Simbarashe Ndhleve, Motebang D.V. Nakin, Asabonga Mngeni, Hlekani M. Kabiti | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 April 2021 | Published: 25 February 2022

About the author(s)

Melezwa Khamisa, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Simbarashe Ndhleve, Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Motebang D.V. Nakin, Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Asabonga Mngeni, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Hlekani M. Kabiti, Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


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Abstract

South Africa is susceptible to droughts. However, little documentation exists on drought occurrence in South Africa at national, provincial and municipal administrative boundaries. This study profiles hydrological drought in OR Tambo District Municipality from 1998 to 2018, computing frequency, severity and intensity in order to show areas of high vulnerability. Data used were obtained from South African Weather Services. Standardised precipitation index (SPI) was calculated using the Meteorological Drought Monitor (MDM) software. Results showed a wide variation in monthly precipitation throughout the year. Coastal areas receive higher rainfall than inland municipalities. The study revealed that Nyandeni experienced the highest drought frequency of 62%, Mhlontlo (58%), King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality (57%), Ngquza Hill (55%) and Port St Johns Municipality showing the least at 52%. Hydrological drought severity frequency and duration varied between seven days and nine weeks. Drought intensity class exposed the annual average intensity for the five local municipalities represented as follows: KSDM (–0.71), PSJM (–0.99), Ngquza Hill (–0.81), Nyandeni (–0.71) and Mhlontlo (–0.62). The longest drought duration across OR Tambo was experienced in 2014 with durations varying from 3 to 11 weeks across the municipalities. OR Tambo District Municipality is susceptible to hydrological droughts and the extent varies across local municipalities. Results could be used for both adaptation planning and mitigating the impacts of future droughts. In addition, they could assist in guiding allocation of drought relief resources in ways that prioritise drought prone and vulnerable municipality.


Keywords

agricultural drought; climate change; hydrological drought; meteorological drought monitor; standardised precipitation index

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