The South African Insurance Association says the SADC Climate Services Centre Bulletin highlights the possibility of extreme weather events during the first quarter of the year. The Bulletin, which was released during 2018, forecasts normal to below normal rainfall over the southern part of the region while also pointing to a possible debilitating dry spell and uneven rainfalls (normal to above-normal over the central parts of the country) with sudden heavy rain.
As such, reduced agricultural yields, catastrophic losses for the farming community or destruction of property and infrastructure caused by flooding are distinct possibilities.
According to SAIA, early-onset rains, false starts to the season and prolonged dry spells could disturb the temporal and spatial distribution of rains at least until March this year.
“The potential for normal rainfall presents an opportunity for good agricultural performance, while the possibility of below-average rainfall presents risks that require preparedness and contingency planning,” says Nico Esterhuizen, SAIA General Manager: Insurance Risks.
Potential risks to the agricultural sector include limited water availability, poor grazing conditions, heat stress to crops and livestock, as well as more fires due to high temperatures.
In the worse-case scenario, drought and dry spells may lead to food insecurity and displacement of people and wildlife. In some localities, destruction of property and infrastructure, and interrupted access to basic social services such as schools, health facilities and markets, may occur because of extreme weather events (floods, heatwaves, hailstorms and wildfires).
When it comes to protecting property and infrastructure, SAIA says policyholders should do what they safely can to secure their home or business against the elements. They should contact their insurer or financial adviser to report the damage and find out which process to follow when placing a claim.
SAIA offers the following advice:
- Prevent further loss only if it is safe for you and those that are assisting you.
- Salvage any items you can.
- Photograph and videotape the damage as soon as you can to provide this as additional proof of loss.
- Do not throw anything away. The insurance company may request to see the items before they process the claim.