In Adapting to Drought, It Takes a Village

By Alexandra Williams | December 16, 2019

Beaver dams naturally increase the water capacity of reservation streams and decrease the impacts of future drought. Photo credit: Jeff Burrell

Cape Town’s resiliency proves that even when a government’s climate adaptation and drought responses are slow and bureaucratic, engaging the community produces measurable and sustainable change.

The magnitude and duration of droughts have increased in the past century. From 2015 to 2018, Cape Town, South Africa experienced a drought that nearly depleted reservoirs and provoked a backlash from both citizens and the international community towards government-led water initiatives. In response, local businesses worked with NGOs and other nonprofits to establish city-wide tools for drought mitigation.

Piikani Lands Crew and CLLC staff and interns finish the construction of a beaver dam analog. Photo credit: Angelina González-Aller)

The project has successfully increased water capacity for wetland habitat and slowed fast melting ice — with the added benefit of encouraging beaver re-population.

More recently, the CAF awarded funding to the Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) for the Ksik Stakii (a Pikuni term that translates to “beaver”) mimicry project with the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. Project member Termaine Edmo, Climate Change Coordinator for the Blackfeet Nation, provided insights on the traditional position of beaver as a sacred teacher symbol for the Blackfeet people.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store