Government lifts national drought state of disaster

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday announced that the national state of disaster over drought had lapsed and would not be renewed, but the Western Cape remains a provincial disaster.

“I have decided not to renew the state of the national drought disaster when it lapses on 13 June, 2018,” Mkhize said in a statement.

The national state of disaster was declared in March, following concern over a drought which was affecting most parts of South Africa.

Mkhize said the declaration had led to various interventions being initiated by different spheres of government.

“The respective spheres of government mobilised and reprioritised resources in their existing allocations, expedited procurement processes and accessed R433.524-million from the respective disaster grants to implement the augmentation and other immediate relief projects,” said Mkhize.

Entering ‘resilience-building phase’

Of this money, Mkhize said R348.8-million had been transferred during the 2017/18 financial year and R84.67-milliom would be transferred from the provincial disaster grant during the 2018/19 financial year.

In May, the National Joint Drought Coordinating Committee (NJDCC) conducted assessments that showed that the acute phase of the drought in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape was at its end and was now entering the “resilience-building phase”.

Mkhize said the resilience-building phase was currently the key focus in dealing with drought, as a concern for adaptation to climate change.

“This entails, among others, improving the identification, funding, coordination and management of resilience-building projects aimed at increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to drought.”

He said the NJDCC would broaden its focus beyond the continual monitoring of resilience-building projects. This would include focused projects, funded from the allocations of the respective organs of state, in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework aimed at the identification and implementation of disaster risk reduction projects.

“The existing classification of a national disaster remains in force with the implication that the national executive would still be responsible for the coordination of the drought interventions,” Mkhize said.

Western Cape drought

Cogta spokesperson Legadima Leso said the drought in the Western Cape remains a provincial disaster. He said the national status had been lifted but that did not mean the processes and coordination in terms of drought funding would be discontinued.

“The state of national disaster has been lifted because all the funding and planned interventions have been implemented and some are continuing to be implemented across the country but Western Cape’s classification still remains.”

Last week local government, environmental affairs and development planning MEC in the Western Cape Anton Bredell said dam levels were increasing but warned that the drought was still far from over.

“Most major dams in the Western Cape are showing slight increases. The Voëlvlei dam (25.5% full this week), the Theewaterskloof dam (20.8% full this week) and the Bergriver Dam (53% full this week) are all showing slight improvements. It’s also good to see Clanwilliam Dam at 20.4%. A few weeks ago the dam was below 6%.

“A lot more rain is needed before the end of the winter season,” Bredell said. — News24

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