Limpopo (SE Africa)

Main description

The Limpopo River is about 1,700 km long and represents one of Southern Africa's major river systems. The Limpopo river basin is a transboundary one shared by South Africa (45 %), Botswana (20 %), Mozambique (20 %), and Zimbabwe (15 %) (Gbetibouo, 2009; Trambauer et al., 2015).

The river drains an area of about 415,500 km2, stretching across different countries and climate zones. Due to the diverse climate in the basin, agricultural activities are also diverse (Gbetibouo, 2009; Trambauer et al., 2015). There are large commercial and small-scale agricultural farms within the basin, and farmers practice dry farming as well as irrigated farming or livestock production (Gbetibouo, 2009).

Landuse in the Waterberg District and the Limpopo River Basin

Figure 1: Landuse in the Waterberg District and the Limpopo River Basin (Map by Juan Miguel Viquez & Daniel Knopp).

The rainfall in the basin is highly variable, which results in frequent droughts. For instance, estimations suggest that southern Africa's 1991/92 drought affected around 86 million peopl, particularly their food security and financial assets (Trambauer et al., 2015).

Climate extremes are already threatening people's livelihoods in the basin and remain a critical management task regarding natural resources. Nevertheless, the IPPC expects climate change to exacerbate the basin's environmental, economic, and social challenges. Hence, one of the basin's critical challenges is finding adaptation measures for climate change impacts and overall sustainable management strategies (Gbetibouo, 2009; Niang et al., 2014).


The Waterberg District is a pilot area within the Open Science to Support Water Security in Southern Africa (OWASA) research project



Alexandra Nauditt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The Department of Environmental Affairs (n.d.): Waterberg District Environmental Management Framework Report. Available at:

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (n.d.): Environmental Management Framework for the Waterberg District. Status Quo Report. Available at:

Gbetibouo, G.A. (2009): Understanding farmers' perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability: The case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa. IFPRI DISCUSSION PAPER.

Netshipale, A.J.; Raidimi, E.N.; Mashiloane, M.L.; de Boer, I.J.M.; Oosting, S.J. (2022): Farming system diversity and its drivers in land reform farms of the Waterberg District, South Africa, Land Use Policy (117), doi:

Niang, I., O.C. Ruppel, M.A. Abdrabo, A. Essel, C. Lennard, J. Padgham, and P. Urquhart (2014): Africa. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1199-1265.

Tjale, M.M.; Mwale, M.; Kilonzo, B.M. (2022): Production Performance among The Restitution Farm Beneficiaries in Waterberg District, South Africa. Journal of Agribusiness and Rural Development Research, 8(1), 1-19, DOI:10.18196/agraris.v8i1.11276

Trambauer, P., Werner, M., Winsemius, H. C., Maskey, S., Dutra, E., and Uhlenbrook, S. (2015): Hydrological drought forecasting and skill assessment for the Limpopo River basin, southern Africa, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 1695–1711,


FaLang translation system by Faboba