EC DISASTER BUDGET JUST R3 MILLION AS STORMS DESTROY FARMS

A DA budget analysis has found that just R3 million has been allocated for disaster management for the 2013/14 financial year by the Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Department as farmers across the province struggle with storm and flood damage running into hundreds of millions of rands.

The Department’s “Disaster Risk Management” programme has the crucial objective of “providing early warning reports of disasters and relief schemes for affected farmers”.

Flood damage in the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality alone already totals R85 million this year, with many farmers losing their livestock and infrastructure according to reports this week. How far will R3 million go in addressing this?

This level of disaster risk funding is a slap in the face to both emerging and commercial farmers who are battling severe weather pattern changes in the Eastern Cape.

Storms and floods are now becoming an annual occurrence in the eastern half of the province where most of the communal and emerging farmers live. If we do not budget to help farmers to prepare for disasters, we are leaving them to go to ruins when the rains come.

If farms are destroyed this not only affects people’s livelihoods but also the entire economy of the Eastern Cape, which depends heavily on agriculture.

The Eastern Cape government needs to be investing in our farmers as the backbone of our economy and helping them to build sustainable businesses.

The current budget does not allow for this. The DA will fight for a far bigger Disaster Risk Management funding allocation for Eastern Cape farmers and will oppose the budget if this does not happen.