Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Des van Rooyen, led the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on Drought, held today, 09 June 2016, to examine the progress made in the implementation of response measures to address drought and water shortages in the country. The Minister said the drought conditions experienced in most parts of the country were a result of natural phenomenon that were characterized by below normal rainfalls and increased maximum temperatures and heatwaves.
“These conditions have resulted in eight provinces being declared states of disaster, with the exception being Gauteng. However, we have intervened in many parts of the country, with the assistance of State Owned Entities, private sector and Non-governmental organisations. This assistance included the drilling of boreholes and distribution of millions of litres of drinking water,” said Minister van Rooyen.
The Minister said that the conditions were exacerbated by the poor state of water-related infrastructure, water losses and the lack of implementation of stringent water conservation measures in affected areas. He also informed the team that a meeting was held with the extended National Drought Joint Coordination Committee to determine the areas that are regarded as hotspots. The meeting also determined the shortfall from the reprioritised funds for the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). This will allow the NDMC to release the disaster funds.
The IMTT was also concerned about issues such as the poor monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the impact of the response and intervention process and non-expenditure and delayed implementation of grant programmes to address service delivery issues. This affects the risk reduction measures. Some provinces are not availing resources on time for immediate response intervention measures and instead rely on national government. The lack of maintenance and care of property is another area of concern.
“The drought situation is still gloomy. Disasters do not happen in a vacuum, but in communities where people stay. Among the measures that should be considered in addressing the drought conditions are disaster management plans and other seasonal related contingency plans. Our people do not have much information. There should be increased communication of drought-related information to all communities. We should ensure implementation of Disaster Risk Management, with an emphasis on Disaster Risk reduction,” said Minister van Rooyen.
The Minister encouraged all stakeholders to ensure their full involvement and commitment during and after disaster occurrences. He said that the momentum on stringent measures and restrictions on water use, conservation, awareness and public advocacy should be sustained.
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