Limpopo River Basin (South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe)

Authors: Silvia Krautzik

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).

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 people and particularly their food security and financial assets (Trambauer et al., 2015).

Climate extremes are already challenging people's livelihoods in the basin and remain a critical management challenge 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).



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.

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.

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,



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


OWASA Basin (Pilot Area)


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