29 AUGUST 2017
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentleman
Thank you for joining us today for this media briefing.
We are providing a report on the work that we have been doing thus far to mitigate and respond to the effects of drought in our country. I will also reflect on contributions towards recovering from the recent fires as experienced in the Western Cape Province.
As we all know, even though the Western Cape is receiving some rainfall, the drought situation in the Province is still persisting negatively impacting upon agricultural production, water supply for human consumption, industrial use and the ecosystems at large. These 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 although 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. The agriculture sector is evidently negatively affected by drought and veld fires in some parts of the Western Cape province have further exacerbated these conditions. The main challenges within the sector are shortages of livestock feed and the deteriorating grazing veld and pastures.
Upon its analysis of the situation in the country based on the presented reports, the Drought Inter- Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) meeting of 07 July 2017 recommended that drought risk reduction measures that have been introduced in the provinces should continue to be implemented in order to ameliorate the impact of water shortages.
In the positive front, the forecast indicates the likelihood of some favorable rainfall conditions in the Western Cape Province during late winter season, towards early spring. This however does not call for complacency on water. Water conservation measures have to continue and heightened as the future is unpredictable. On the other front, it calls for measures to manage flood risk associated with rainfall conditions particularly in the built environment.
The National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is monitoring the levels of forty-three (43) dams in the Western Cape Province on a weekly basis some of which are in the winter rainfall areas of the province while others lie in the transitional area between the winter and summer rainfall areas.
It should be noted that the situation of dams in the Western Cape province has improved slightly but their levels are far lower when compared to this time, the previous year (i.e. 2016). More rains are therefore required to increase water in storage to safe levels for the coming summer season. The Department of Water and Sanitation, has and, is continuously providing support to the province by monitoring the water supply schemes and instituting water restrictions to the targeted users.
The magnitude and severity of drought conditions in the Western Cape resulted in a provincial state of disaster being declared by the Provincial Government in terms of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, Act 57 of 2002 (the Act) (Annexure C).
In response to the situation, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) conducted damage assessments during June and July 2017 for the classification of the disaster, as per the Disaster Management Act. The disaster has thus been classified as a provincial disaster by the NDMC.
Several engagements were held with relevant national sector departments, i.e. Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to mobilise available resources, as well as the necessary support required by the province.
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, Knysna, 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 (seventy four million, eight hundred and sixty six thousand, two hundred and sixty three rand). 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.
An amount of R34 866 263 will be used for drought relief projects within the identified Municipalities as follows:
|Sector / Municipality||Source of funding||Amount|
|Department of Agriculture||Provincial Disaster Grant administered by COGTA||R40 000 000
|City of Cape Town||Municipal Disaster Grant
administered by COGTA
|R20 812 483
|Bitou Local Municipality||Municipal Disaster Grant
administered by COGTA
|R10 920 000
|Theewaterskloof Local Municipality||Municipal Disaster Grant
administered by COGTA
|R 3 133 780|
|Total||R74 866 263.00|
As part of project management and monitoring, the NDMC and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre of the Western Cape will monitor and report on progress made on the implementation of these projects. A project management team is being established by the province to monitor and provide oversight in order to ensure proper implementation of projects and the economic use of funding.
The transfer of these funds was therefore based on the conditions stipulated in the applicable Grant Frameworks to ensure value for money and accountability on the utilisation of public funds. These funds were transferred to the recipients on 21 August 2017. The funds earmarked for agriculture will be transferred on 31 August 2017.
The IMTT will continue to monitor the drought conditions in the Western Cape and through the relevant sector departments under the leadership of the respective Ministers, offer the required support to mitigate the situation. As indicated earlier, the rainfall forecast for Western Cape for the 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 (SAWS) will therefore continue monitoring and advising on medium and shorter-range weather forecasts for the development of weather conditions in order to inform actions to inform risk reduction.
In conclusion, we have sadly received reports that the Western Cape Agriculture confirmed evidence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, type H5N5 in the province. I am aware that other inland provinces are facing similar outbreaks of different magnitude and my department is engaging its counterpart, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to ascertain details about the outbreak.
Disaster management teams will work with all the role players to assist with a response to the situation.