Eastern Cape must now be declared a drought disaster area

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane must declare the Eastern Cape a provincial disaster area as soon as possible, now that the national classification has taken place.

The prolonged drought has been recognised as a national disaster by the National Disaster Management Centre, and the Eastern Cape government can no longer ignore the water crisis that is unfolding in the province.

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Government must put measures in place to declare the province a disaster area.

Nelson Mandela Bay is set to become the first Metro in South Africa that will incur major water shortages when storage dams run dry.

The combined capacity for NMB storage dams is set to dip below 10% today (21 July 2021), with estimates being that the first dam will run dry within the next 21 days.

Kouga local municipality, which is dependent on water from the Kouga Dam, will also face severe water challenges. The Kouga Dam is currently at a record low 3,91% of total capacity, and once supply from this dam dries up, the Kouga Municipality will almost solely be reliant on groundwater.

Premier Mabuyane last declared a provincial drought disaster in October 2019. During this time, the province made an application to National Treasury for much-needed disaster relief for drought-plagued municipalities and farmers who have been decimated by the drought.

The prolonged drought continues to decimate Eastern Cape farmers on the western side of the province. Many farmers are facing financial ruin as the six-year-long drought continues to tighten its grip on the region.

Declaring the Eastern Cape as a drought disaster area will enable the province to stand in line for much-needed relief funding from National Government.

This funding will aid municipalities in funding drought mitigation or drought augmentation projects as well as provide much-needed relief to farmers who have been severely affected by the drought.