Government prepared for natural disasters

Monday, December 23, 2019

Government has put in place contingency plans to mitigate against the impact of inclement weather conditions during the summer period.

“We have entered a period that is prone to various disasters and it is important for the country to have contingency plans in place to mitigate their negative impact," the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said.

Last week, leaders from across the three spheres of government convened to consider possible interventions and responses in case of disaster during the summer season.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) said South Africa faces increasing levels of disaster risks and remains exposed to a wide range of hazards, including weather-related hazards in the summer season, which can trigger widespread devastation.

These hazards include above-normal rainfall that can lead to floods; impacts of cyclones such as severe storms, tornadoes and hail storms; veld fires and large informal settlement fires, and others that have not yet been characterised.

These weather conditions are known to disrupt the lives of communities and destroy critical public infrastructure such as buildings, roads, bridges, telecommunication, banks and others.

“In this regard, in preparation for the development of the contingency plan, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has developed and published a seasonal hazard profile, which is in line with the issued forecast.

“The NDMC, in partnership with national sector departments and provinces through the Provincial Disaster Management Centres (PDMCs), has developed a risk-based plan, which also provides insight into the forecast issued by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) during this season (September 2019 to April 2020),” Cogta said.

The activated National Contingency Plan for this season will serve as a framework to guide multidisciplinary and coordinated response to any possible occurrences arising from the extreme weather conditions during the 2019/20 summer season.

“Given the need for government to be on high alert during this period, the NDMC will be on standby monitoring, reporting and assessing the situation in order to coordinate and facilitate the response by national role players and PDMCs,” Cogta said.

PDMCs are expected to monitor the situation and submit incident reports on a weekly basis or as and when required.

SAWS will also be submitting weekly and daily weather forecasts and alert notifications to NDMC of any impending severe weather conditions.

This information will be shared with relevant role players by NDMC for further dissemination to municipalities and communities.

The NDMC maintains an up to date database of all Disaster Management Focal Points within organs of State to be contacted in case of any disaster incident. –