The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement by Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, that the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) will submit a request to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to declare the Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman District Municipalities a drought disaster area.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane made this pronouncement in response to formal questions posed to him by the Democratic Alliance in relation to the extended drought in the province.
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The Eastern Cape is still grappling with one of the worst droughts on record which continues to plague the entire western side of the province. Municipalities such as Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Kouga Municipality and Dr Beyers Naude are the worst affected and continue to experience severe water shortages.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, dams have now reached a record low with combined capacity set to drop below 11% on Friday, 25th of June 2021. The municipality recently announced that the first community that will be affected by the water shortage would be KwaNobuhle, just outside Kariega (Uitenhage). It is expected that taps in KwaNobhule will run dry within the first week of July 2021.
In Graaff-Reinet, in the Dr Beyers Naude Municipality, no further water can be extracted from the Nqweba dam which is currently standing at only 7,7% of total capacity. As a result, the town now solely relies on groundwater sources and regularly experiences water shortages.
The Democratic Alliance has long been calling that the Eastern Cape be declared a drought disaster area. The Premier last declared a drought disaster in the province in October 2019.
Unfortunately, Eastern Cape Provincial Departments, as well as municipalities, can’t qualify for much-needed drought disaster funding from National Government unless a drought disaster has been declared.
Disaster funding is urgently needed by affected municipalities to fund drought mitigation as well as water augmentation programmes. In addition, farmers who have been plagued by the six-year-long drought are also in desperate need of some financial assistance.
The DA will continue to fight and put pressure on the provincial government to provide the necessary support to municipalities so that we can provide water security for the people of this province.