scenario 1: Root of the matter?

Food as a natural resource

This scenario explores the effects of a crisis in water quality and supply coinciding with the ongoing energy crisis and the impacts of climate change on the South African food system




What effects will climate variability and water supply have on food in South Africa?


What if...

a severe dry-weather cycle makes the natural system upon which food production depends even more vulnerable?

Food is examined as...

a product of nature

This scenario is driven by...

climate change, a crisis in water quality and quantity, and energy insecurity



The Scenario

It is 2015 and in a land fraught with growing hunger, poverty, inequality and high unemployment rates, soils have been depleted and the availability of viable arable land is limited. Municipal infrastructure is ageing, irrigation demand is growing and the river systems are taking strain. 

The onset of a severe dry-weather cycle in the central and northern provinces makes matters worse. Commercial farmers who can afford to, invest in specific infrastructure and biotechnology to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Most large-scale farmers manage to make do, but subsistence and small-scale farmers can’t survive. There are job losses in the agricultural sector and overall productivity declines. South Africa increasingly looks towards its northern neighbours to supplement its food supply and the gap between those who have the resources to adapt to a changing climate and its resultant impact on food prices and those who do not, widens.

The government addresses energy insecurity and carbon emission levels by building a fleet of nuclear power stations, procuring from Russia at a cost that proves hard to contain, resulting in reduced investment in agriculture. 

By 2030 South Africa is a hotter, more unequal country than it was in 2015, with a more vulnerable natural resource base for agriculture.