Step 1: Indicators

The first step in a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment is to develop a set of indicators. Indicators are a list of potential impacts that may take place in your area as a result of climate change. The video below explains the process of developing a list of indicators used in this toolkit.

A draft list of climate change indicators have been developed using the Long Term Adaptation Scenario Reports. The indicators have been grouped into sectors and are listed below. The purpose of this list of indicators is to provide a starting point for the Vulnerability Assessment. Please add, subtract and edit the indicators as you see fit for your particular municipality.

Indicator Title
Indicator Description
1AgricultureChange in grain (maize, wheat & barley) productionAreas towards the west of RSA are likely to become less suitable for grain production.
2AgricultureChange in Sorghum productionSorghum yields are projected to increase in parts of western KZN, inland areas of the Eastern Cape and the eastern Free State, with some areas in the north registering losses compared with present climatic conditions.
3AgricultureChange in Soya Bean ProductionAreas in the east of RSA lost to potential production, with an expansion of suitable areas inland towards the central/west or RSA.
4AgricultureChange in Sugarcane ProductionIncrease in <10% in many parts of the present cane growing areas, but by up to 30% in new growth areas further inland.
5AgricultureChange in viticulture (grapes) productionAreas suitable for viticulture could be substantially reduced or shift to higher altitudes and currently cooler, more southerly locations.
6AgricultureChange in fruit productionProjected reduction of the area suitable for fruit production (e.g. 28% reduction in apple and pears) by as early as 2020.
7AgricultureChange in other crop production areas (e.g. vegetables, nuts, etc.)Crop production may vary depending on a warmer wetter or warmer drier climate.
8AgricultureIncreased areas for commercial plantationsThe total area suitable for commercial forestry plantations would increase along the eastern seaboard and adjacent areas.
9AgricultureIncreased exposure to pests such as eldana, chilo and codling mothExposure to eldana would increase in areas suitable for sugarcane by ~10% to > 30%. The area subject to damage by chilo would increase substantially (sugarcane). The area subject to damage by codling moth would increase substantially (apples, pears, walnuts and quince).
10AgricultureIncreased risks to livestockProjected decreases in rainfall and hence herbage yields would result in negative health impacts for livestock.
11AgricultureReduced food securityReduced food security, particularly of subsistence farmers, and resultant increase in malnutrition.
12Biodiversity and EnvironmentLoss of High Priority BiomesHigh Priority Biomes (including Grasslands, Nama-Karoo, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Fynbos, Forest) to be replaced by other biomes such as savanna and desert.
13Biodiversity and EnvironmentIncreased impacts on threatened ecosystemsLoss of threatened ecosystems due to changes in climate.
14Biodiversity and EnvironmentIncreased impacts on environment due to land-use changeLoss of biodiversity and degradation of natural habitat due to significant land use change (such as alien invasion, soil erosion and urbanisation) which impacts on ability to respond to climate change
15Biodiversity and EnvironmentLoss of Priority Wetlands and River ecosystemsChanges in rainfall patterns and temperature are likely to impact on wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.
16Coastal and MarineImpacts on Marine and Benthic EcosystemsChanges in precipitation and freshwater flow; sea-level rise; increased temperatures and coastal storminess have led to changes in physical processes and biological responses which impacts marine and benthic ecosystems.
17Coastal and MarineImpacts on estuary ecosystemsChanges in precipitation and freshwater flow; sea-level rise; increased temperatures and coastal storminess have led to changes in physical processes and biological responses which impacts on estuarine ecosystems.
18Coastal and MarineImpacts on Coastal LivelihoodsAn increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events is likely to impact on fishing activity by reducing the number of viable sea fishing days, affecting catches.
19Coastal and MarineLoss of land due to sea level riseIncreased loss of land due to sea level rise and storm surges
20Coastal and MarineIncreased damage to property from sea level riseIncreased damage to property and damage to infrastructure (including coastal roads and railways, small fishing ports and harbours, and critical infrastructure such as Koeberg nuclear power station) as a result of rising sea-levels and storm surges.
21Human HealthHealth impacts from increased storm eventsIncreased storms will result increased risk of drowning, injuries and population displacement impacts.
22Human HealthIncreased heat stressIncreases in average temperatures and extreme events (such as heat waves) are projected to induce heat stress, increase morbidity, and result in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
23Human HealthIncreased vector borne diseases from spread of mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, and blackfliesVector borne diseases such as malaria is projected to spread within regions bordering current malaria areas, which are presently too cold for transmission.
24Human HealthIncreased water borne and communicable diseases (e.g. typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis)Favourable conditions for the incubation and transmission of waterborne diseases may be created by increasing air and water temperatures.
25Human HealthIncreased malnutrition and hunger as a result of food insecurityClimate Change will affect food systems, compromising food availability, access and utilisation, leading to food insecurity (particularly of subsistence farmers).
26Human HealthIncreased air pollutionHealth impacts in resulting from exposure to air pollutants include eye irritation, acute respiratory infection, chronic respiratory diseases and TB, and sometimes death.
27Human HealthIncreased Occupational health problemsTemperature is a common climatic factor that affects occupational health (for example, agricultural labourer’s productivity) by causing heat stress and dehydration.
28Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsLoss of industrial and labour productivityDirect impacts of weather on construction, electricity generation and other industries, resulting in loss of productivity.
29Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsIncreased impacts on strategic infrastructureIncreased disruptions to key strategic infrastructure (e.g. WWTW, storm water, roads, rail, bridges) as a result of extreme weather events.
30Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsIncreased impacts on traditional and informal dwellingsIncreased risk of extreme weather events to already vulnerable traditional and informal dwellings, that are often unplanned, and without extensive service or infrastructure.
31Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsIncreased isolation of rural communitiesPhysical isolation of rural communities as a result poor rural roads and increased flooding and erosion.
32Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsIncreased migration to urban and peri-urban areasIncreased migration from rural settlements to urban and peri-urban settlements.
33Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsIncreased risk of wildfiresIncreased risk of wildfires linked to higher ambient temperatures, dry spells and more frequent lightning storms.
34Disaster Management, Infrastructure and Human SettlementsDecreased income from tourismReduced income from tourism as a result of reduced recreational opportunities and increased impact on tourism-supporting infrastructure, such as conservation area access roads.
35WaterDecreased quality of drinking waterDeterioration in water quality due to increased salt concentrations in dams, wetlands and soil/plant systems from enhanced evaporation rates.
36WaterDecreased water quality in ecosystem due to floods and droughtsMore frequent floods result in increased effluent overflow into rivers. Increased drought means less water is available to dilute wastewater discharges and irrigation return flows to rivers.
37WaterLess water available for irrigation and drinkingIncreased periods of drought mean less water is available.
38WaterIncreased impacts of flooding from litter blocking storm water and sewer systemsHuman health and ecosystem impacts, associated with increased rainfall intensities, flash floods and regional flooding resulting in litter and washed-off debris blocking water and sanitation systems.
39WaterIncreased fish mortalityIncreased freshwater fish mortality due to reduced oxygen concentrations in aquatic environments and mortality of temperature-sensitive fish species.

Download the Vulnerability Assessment Score Sheet (Excel) to conduct your own exposure assessment.