The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Des van Rooyen has described 2017 as the year of strengthening stakeholder engagement and efforts to reduce risks of disasters. He stressed that implementation of a comprehensive disaster management strategy requires a collective effort from all key role players and stakeholders in ensuring effective Disaster Risk Reduction.
In 2017, the country experienced a number of disaster incidents including Drought, Knysna fires, Tropical Cyclone Dineo, and Ugu Oil spillage to name just a few. “The management of these disasters would not have been realised had it not been the cooperation and contribution of all stakeholders”, said Minister van Rooyen.
According to Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Head of the National Disaster Management Centre, 2017, as in previous years, has been a year characterized by the celebration of collective achievements and consolidation of future disaster risk management agenda.
“The success of Disaster Risk Management, relies on how effective we galvanize efforts of other role players and stakeholders with consultation of the communities we serve” said Dr Tau.
Disaster risk challenges remain a reality and are on an exponential trend due to the effects of climate change, the increasing population, and pressure on environmental resources.
“As we wind down the year, I wish to remind and call upon all role players and our communities to remain vigilant in their areas of responsibilities, localities and decisively deal with any threats of disaster risks which might occur in order to ensure that there is no loss of life or even damage to property. ” said the Minister. He emphasising the importance of enhanced disaster risk reduction and management measures for the benefit of current and future generations.
Minister van Rooyen appealed to the nation to be weather wise as they enjoy the festive season with their families. He indicated that the rains are welcome as they will go a long way in ensuring that we reverse the effects and impact of drought in our country. But with this rain comes some challenges hence the importance of always being vigilant and cautious in areas which are flooded.
The following tips are important for the public to follow:
- People living in low-lying areas must take special care during storms, as sudden floods might affect them. They should monitor the rising water levels and evacuate the areas to a safer place or higher spot when the water level rises;
- Do not cross through flooded roads or bridges – use other routes;
- Avoid crossing low lying bridges, streams and rivers;
- Never try to walk, swim or drive in swift-flowing water; even if the water is 15 cm deep, it can sweep you off your feet;
- Motorist must be very careful and avoid driving through flooded areas;
- Motorist must drive to and park at safer areas;
- Public should monitor weather alerts through the radios and television;
- Public should contact their municipal disaster management centres or the nearest police station or call the national emergency numbers (112, 10177 or 107) when faced with threats;
- Teach your children about the dangers of floods;
- Keep your important documents in a water-resistant containers;
- Have emergency numbers at hand;
- Be especially vigilant at night, when it is harder to recognise potentially deadly road hazards;
- Do not camp or park your car along rivers or washes, especially during heavy rains or thunderstorms;
- If you are on foot, be aware that low moving water can also be dangerous during flood conditions. If you come upon moving water, do not walk into it.; and
- Where possible, communities are encouraged to try and avoid contact with any flood waters. The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, oil or other dangerous substances, and may also be charged with electricity from the fallen power-lines.
- In some instances, communities are encouraged to stay indoors when heavy rains are continuing.
Minister van Rooyen urges South Africans to continue using water sparingly and should not be deceived by the current downpours and think that drought is over. It is important to note that it will take a longer period for the country to recover fully from the severe drought. The Western Cape province remains the hardest hit by drought and is still in bad condition, concluded the Minister.
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