Regional Drought Severity Assessment at a Basin Scale in the Limpopo Drainage System


A spatial analysis of drought characteristics in the Limpopo basin is undertaken to evaluate its regional implications to water management challenges. In this study, drought duration, frequency and severity are investigated. In addition drought Severity-Area-Frequency (SAF) curves were constructed. The entire Limpopo River Basin is subdivided into four homogeneous regions based on topographic and climate variations in the basin, which was constructed with the K-Means Clustering algorithm. Using the medium range time series of the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) as an indicator of drought for each homogeneous region, monthly and annual SAF curves and maps of probability of drought occurrence were produced. The results indicated localized severe droughts in higher frequencies compared to moderate to severe low frequency droughts spread over wider areas in the basin. The approach can be used to develop improved drought indicators to assess the relationship between drought hazard and vulnerability and to enhance the performance of methods currently used for drought forecasting. In general, this preliminary investigation reveals that the western part of the basin will face a higher risk of drought when compared to other regions of the Limpopo Basin in terms of the medium-term drought patterns. The Limpopo Basin is water stressed and livelihood challenges remain high, thus impacts of droughts and related resilience options should be taken into account in the formulation of regional sustainable water resources development strategies.

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B. Alemaw, J. Kileshye-Onema and D. Love, "Regional Drought Severity Assessment at a Basin Scale in the Limpopo Drainage System," Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 5 No. 11, 2013, pp. 1110-1116. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2013.511116.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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