DA approaches United Nations to intervene in ongoing EC drought crisis

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

Millions of residents across the Eastern Cape are facing possibly the worst humanitarian crisis to affect this province, while the ANC-led government does nothing.

A sustainable water supply is critical to building the Eastern Cape as a province of hope and opportunity. The DA will leave no stone unturned to achieve this and build a province of opportunity for all.

The Democratic Alliance has reached out to United Nations Water to request their assistance to the Eastern Cape Government, which has shown it lacks the political will and expertise to adequately deal with this crisis.

Download letter.

Smaller municipalities are already dealing with water shedding, some for weeks if not months at a time, while farmers have been left to fend for themselves as their crops and livestock are decimated.

While humanitarian aid organisations deliver water to residents, describing the situation as the worst they have seen, the provincial and national government has been noticeably absent.

The very real drought conditions that have been affecting the province, exacerbated by rising temperatures and climate change, have been aggravated by a water management crisis of epic proportions.

What would President Nelson Mandela say if he heard that residents of his hometown were forced to drink water alongside their livestock because the taps have been left to run dry?

While some farmers received good rainfall in recent weeks, it has not been enough to break the drought. These farmers have been battling for years without government support, despite hundreds of millions of rands going unspent across departments.

In Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), critical drought mitigation measures were left to lapse, the money provided forfeited to national government, because the ANC-led coalition did nothing.

Arguably the most vital water infrastructure upgrade in the province, the third phase of the Nooitgedacht low-level water scheme in NMB, ground to a halt because the government-appointed Amatola Water Board failed to pay the contractor.

This critical upgrade was supposed to provide an extra 40 million litres of water a day to desperate residents.

While much-needed rains have fallen over recent weeks, these have made very little impact on dam levels, and forecasts are that these could be the last significant rainfalls until March or April of next year.

The DA has therefore written to UN Water to bring the plight of the people of the Eastern Cape to their attention and lobby them to reach out to the provincial government and offer much-needed expertise.

Maybe, with the eyes of the world on them, the ANC will eventually take action and serve the people of the province.