R74m allocated to Western Cape drought relief

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen says government will allocate R74 million in relief funding to respond to the persistent drought in the Western Cape.

The Minister said this when he led a media briefing of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Drought at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament in Cape Town.

The announcement comes after the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) declared the Western Cape drought situation as a provincial disaster after conducting assessments in June and July this year.

He said several engagements were held with national departments, including the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to mobilise available resources, as well as the necessary support required by the provinces.

“During July 2017, the NDMC received funding requests from the Western Cape Department of Local Government to be allocated to the Provincial Department of Agriculture and the affected municipalities notably – Bitou, Theewaterskloof and the City of Cape Town.

“Meetings were held with all the municipalities for the verification of emergency projects requiring funding from the national government. The assessments were also conducted within the agriculture sector.

“The total cost of providing emergency disaster relief to Western Cape Province is R74 866 263. Of this amount, R40 million will be allocated towards livestock feed to be expended by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in light of the drought situation and the fires experienced recently in the province,” he said.

Providing a breakdown of the funding, the Minister said of the R34 million that will be used for relief projects within identified municipalities, the City of Cape Town would be allocated R20 million, Bitou Local Municipality R10.9 million, while R3.1 million would be channelled to the Theewaterskloof Municipality. All these payments would be made from Cogta’s Municipal Disaster Grant.

The Minister said while the municipal allocations were transferred to the recipients on 21 August 2017, the funds earmarked for agriculture will be transferred on 31 August.

He said the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Drought will continue to monitor the drought conditions in the Western Cape and offer the required support through relevant sector departments to mitigate the situation.

“As indicated earlier, the rainfall forecast for the Western Cape for winter is still uncertain.

“It is then recommended that the current drought risk reduction measures be continued as our country is generally drought prone.

The South African Weather Service will therefore continue monitoring and advising on medium and short-range weather forecasts for the development of weather conditions in order to inform actions to inform risk reduction,” he said.

The announcement comes as water dam levels in the Western Cape remain at undesirable levels.

While Western Cape was receiving some rainfall, the drought situation in the province continues to persist and in the process, impacting negatively on agricultural production, water supply for human consumption, industrial use and the ecosystems at large.

These, the Minister said, are evidenced through declining dam levels and poor vegetation across the province.

“As a risk mitigation measure, these conditions compelled the province to continue enforcing stringent water use measures through the institution of water restrictions on households, industry and the agricultural sector.

“It is also notable that while rainfalls have been received in some parts of the country, particularly the summer rainfall areas, the drought conditions are still persisting calling for conservative measures in undertaking agricultural practices and the general utilisation of water by our people,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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