Drought declared a national disaster
Government this week formally declared the drought as a “national state of disaster”.
Dr Zweli Mkhize, the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), made the announcement during a media briefing by the inter-ministerial task team (IMTT) on drought and water scarcity in Cape Town on 13 March.
The budget also included more than R500 million in short-term assistance through disaster relief grants for provinces and municipalities.
COGTA communications head Legadima Leso said that the Western Cape had already received R74 million in assistance in 2017, and that requests from the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape had been received.
These were being scrutinised by COGTA, Treasury and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), and an announcement would be made once a final decision had been reached.
Leso said that applications for assistance varied from requests by livestock farmers for feed, to assistance with transportation of water by water tankers.
They spanned all sectors of society, not only agriculture.
The fact that a national drought had been declared meant that even provinces not elevated to provincial disaster areas could benefit.
The declaration was not aimed primarily at requesting funding.
“It’s aimed at activating extraordinary measures, which might include funding, based on need and other relevant conditions to address the impact of such a disaster,” Mkhize said.