A harvest of dysfunction: rethinking the approach to drought, its causes and impacts in South Africa

South Africa has been experiencing its most severe drought in over 35 years. More than half of the population have experienced water shortages or supply interruptions, while rising food prices and income insecurity are making hunger a daily reality for a growing number of families. This report argues that the devastation caused by the current drought is not simply a consequence of poor rainfall and the strongest El Niño on record; it is a harvest of dysfunction, arising from South Africa’s failure to address structural vulnerabilities. It is crucial that lessons from this drought are learnt – both to develop more effective responses to the immediate crisis, and to put the country on a more equitable and sustainable path.