Private sector comes on board as Government starts counting the financial costs of the disasters

Pretoria, 20 January 2011 – Municipalities and disaster management services around the country are continuing with the onerous task of assessing the damage caused to infrastructure, homes and farming land in 33 municipalities around the country as a result of the devastation caused by the floods and other natural disasters that have struck around the country since December.

A total of 41 lives have been confirmed lost in the incidents so far, which include floods, lightning and storms that have destabilised lives and left a trail of destruction that government, in partnership with the private sector and civil society structures are preparing to deal with to support all those affected.

The 33 municipalities in eight provinces affected were on Monday declared as disaster areas in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The declaration opens the door for government to mobilise resources for a more coordinated approach in providing support to affected communities and individuals.

The primary focus of government support and assistance so far has been towards stabilising the lives of affected citizens in terms of humanitarian aid which includes public infrastructure like halls and schools, tents, blankets, food parcels and counselling.

Disaster management and emergency services, in conjunction with municipalities, have conducted rapid assessments of the damage, which are carried out by the municipalities with sector departments. This will then be followed by quantifying the damage after-which the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and engineering experts will do their own assessment and verification, which will allow them to make recommendations for funding from the National Treasury.

In some provinces the initial costs of the damage has already been added up giving an indication of funding that will be required for the long process of rebuilding lives and infrastructure.

The funding support and assistance will largely go towards humanitarian relief, repairs and rehabilitation of public infrastructure, agricultural relief (infrastructure, livestock and crops) and repairs to houses.

Government has applauded the initiative shown by the private sector with offers of contributions towards the rebuilding and rehabilitation process, with Absa and Vodacom already having approached government with contributions.

In the North West Province the damage has been calculated to R80, 3 million, R300m in KwaZulu-Natal, R50m in the Northern Cape and R150m in the Eastern Cape. National Disaster Management and engineering experts will still do their own assessment and verification of the assessments done by local municipalities.

 Due to the La Nina effect on the global climate situation, in South Africa the rains are expected to continue up to May and even beyond.

Communities are advised to be in constant contact with their municipalities for assistance and advice where it is possible, and to also constantly monitor the media, in particular radio, for warnings and other useful information to avert possible further loss of life and destruction to property.

Issued by the Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).

Vuyelwa Qinga (Ms)
Cell: 082 877 3898 / 012 334 0993