Drought Is A National Disaster

Drought Is A National Disaster”

As outlined during the 2018/2019 Budget Speech, an amount of R6 billion has been set aside to bring relief to affected communities.

Cooperative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize says declaring the drought a national disaster is a short-term measure.

The minister declared the continuing drought in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape as a national state of disaster considering the effect on all sectors of the economy throughout the country. On this basis, the Bureau of Food and Agricultural Policy notes that the impact of the drought can not be considered to be isolated from the global market.

He cautioned that despite these higher dam levels, these provinces were not out of the woods in terms of water scarcity.

Regarding government interventions following the declaration of the disaster, Mkhize said the National Joint Drought Coordinating Committee will meet monthly and continue coordinating integrated multi-sectoral intervention measures to address the drought situation.

The water crisis has already ravaged a number of areas in the Western and Eastern Cape, forcing residents to limit water consumption.

Despite scarcity of rain, the Gauteng province's dam levels are 92.8% full, followed by Mpumalanga at 77.9% and the Northern Cape at 67.9%.

The reclassification of drought as a national disaster designated the primary responsibility for the coordination and management of the disaster to the national executive, who must act in close cooperation with the other spheres of government to deal with the disaster and its consequences.

Mkhize clarified that the difference between "disaster classification" and "declaration of a state of disaster" is that when the disaster has been classified, but not declared, then the responsible sphere of government - municipal, provincial or national - must deal with the disaster within the parameters of its existing legislation and contingency arrangements. The declaration now unlocks these funds.

All that was left was for the Cabinet to declare the national disaster, after a briefing from the National Disaster Management Centre, which would trigger the release of the much-needed funds to the affected provinces.

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