A state of disaster has been declared in three Western Cape municipalities as South Africa continues to battle its worst drought since 1992.
The affected municipalities are the Central Karoo, Eden and the West Coast.
The drought has also led to a state of disaster being declared in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.
Gauteng is the only province that has not yet declared a drought disaster.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) has requested drought relief assistance from the National Treasury through the National Disaster Management Centre, of which R212 million has been made available for the provision of animal feed for the months of October, November and December.
Of the funding, R12m has been allocated specifically to the Western Cape.
Daff spokesperson Makenosi Maroo said: “The drought’s devastating effects are quite palpable and pose a risk of social upheavals.
“While some parts of the country are experiencing some rain, the country in its entirety is receiving below-average rainfall as compared to previous seasons due to the El Niño phenomenon. Most rivers are not flowing normally and dam levels are at their lowest in a decade.
Earlier this month, Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said Western Cape dam levels have seen a slight drop.
It’s estimated that the average dam level across the province would be 59.6 percent full by the end of this week.
“We’re concerned about the status of our major dams in the province, which are mostly far from ideal levels. The exception is Clanwilliam Dam, which is nearly 100 percent full. The districts of prime concern remain the West Coast, Cape Winelands and Central Karoo, with the metro also seeing increased pressure,” Bredell said.
Portfolio committee on water and sanitation chairperson Mlungisi Johnson said: “The responsibility is on every individual to conserve the water. We have to avoid worsening an already dire situation.”
Agri Western Cape spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff said: “In the Karoo area, farm dams are now at levels where they should only be by March next year. Farm dam levels in the province are on average 30 percent lower than the same time last year.”
Regarding wheat production, the situation looks better than the same time last year, with good crop figures coming in. Below-average rain fell again this winter, but it fell with the ideal intervals for grain production, she said.
“Deciduous fruit producers are positive and orchards are in full bloom, but it’s too early to predict what the season will bring. Producers had to use water saved for the post-
harvest for the pre-harvest, so water availability will be the deciding factor for the season ahead.”
By Lisa Isaacs. Source: Cape Times