The intensity and frequency in the recurrence of extreme climate events are compounding the vulnerability of smallholder farmers, who have always lacked the resources to adapt. The increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall are exacerbating water scarcity challenges through drought recurrence. There is an urgent need for pathways that lead towards Sustainable Development Goals, mainly Goals 1 (no poverty) and 2 (zero hunger) in poor rural communities. This study assessed rainfall and temperature trends from 1960 to 2018 and their impacts on crop production in the Mopani and Vhembe Districts of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Trend analysis was used to analyse rainfall patterns, as well as the trends in temperature recorded for the past 58 years. The climate moisture index (CMI) and runoff estimates were used to assess the degree of aridity and water availability, respectively. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remotely sensed data were used to assess the changes over time. The total annual rainfall has declined significantly while annual minimum and maximum temperatures have increased significantly during the period under observation. An aridity index of −0.70 calculated for the study areas classifies the districts as dry and water scarce. The results of the analysis also indicate that the districts are climate change hot spots, and are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The changes are compounding water and food insecurity. Policy and decision-makers should focus on enhancing adaptation and resilience initiatives in the study areas through systematic, transformative, and integrated approaches, such as scenario planning, circular economy, and nexus planning.
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