Ongoing drought a priority for government

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Government is working to alleviate the impact of the ongoing drought in pockets of the country.

In a statement, the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation said it is working with the affected provinces, municipalities, other national departments as well as the private sector.

A number of initiatives are being implemented which will take some time to turn the situation around.

“It is important to note that the current situation follows on the national and regional drought that began in 2014, and which saw a great deal of RSA impacted upon negatively.

“Even though since late 2017 into 2018 there has been some recovery in large parts of the country, this natural act/phenomenon will take even longer to turn around due to the fact that in the 2018 and 2019 summer rainfall periods, the country experienced late rains and high temperatures leading to high evaporation rates and very little recharge of the country’s water sources.

“These are but some of the impacts of climate change which are a reality,” said the department.

The Eastern Cape has been greatly affected by the current drought, particularly in Butterworth and the surrounding areas in the Amathole District Municipality (ADM).

The river at the Kei Bridge is dry. The department has released water from the Wriggles Dam in the last week and this water is expected to take about two weeks to reach Kei Bridge for water tankers to receive water from the Water Treatment Plant at Kei Bridge.

The boreholes that were drilled in the area did not yield much due to the drought. In the absence of rains and therefore run off and recharge of water sources, even the groundwater runs out.

In Queenstown, the dam level continues to drop also due to a lack of rain. The Chris Hani District Municipality has imposed water rationing to assist with water availability over a longer period.

While the responsibility for reticulation rests with local government, the department has continued to support the affected municipalities by making water tankers available at the department’s costs.

“The challenge of the drought can only be permanently resolved by the arrival of the much anticipated rains. In the meantime, as the EC Provincial Government did declare a provincial drought, the process to finalise the relevant type and size of assistance rests with the National Disaster Management Centre, made up of a number of Ministries and Departments including COGTA, Agriculture and Land Reform, DWS, Environmental Affairs and National Treasury.”

Minister Sisulu said government at the level of Cabinet continues to be “seized with the need to alleviate the plight that emanates from this unfortunate act of nature”. –