Distressed W Cape small scale farmers welcome help

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Small scale farmers in Macassar near Somerset West have welcomed the animal feed delivered by humanitarian group Gift of the Givers, following recent heavy rains in the province.

Farmers say water and grass has been contaminated by the nearby sewerage plant, leaving animals with no grazing land.

Farmers say many animals have been evacuated to other suitable pieces of land.

Initial estimates by the city show around 16 000 people needing assistance.

Severe weather conditions in the Western Cape

They say over 7 000 informal dwellings were impacted, with about 30 other areas waiting to be assessed.

Donations are being co-ordinated by the Red Cross.

In Macassar outside Somerset West, farmers were trying to save their livestock from grazing contaminated grass.

They say dirty water from the nearby sewerage plant has overflown to the grazing field.

Horse breeder, Nazeem Anthony says, “We are sitting with a big concern here. A wastewater treatment plant feeding into our river and our houses and our places, grazing is contaminated with the water coming from the plant and here’s no grazing land left for the horses, for the animals. So, we are sitting even if it dries up our horses, our animals are going to eat the contaminated ground and here’s people, this is their livelihood we are talking about.”

Anthony says disaster management officials have visited the area to conduct an assessment.

But they need immediate help for their animals.

Gift of the Givers have heeded the call for help and a truckload of fodder has been delivered to assist the distressed farmers.

Founder Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman says various areas have been cut off, hampering relief efforts.

“The area is too vast, too many areas are affected, the amount of people on the first day, we can’t get to the people. We started on Monday, it’s Thursday and we haven’t reached the people, the roads are inaccessible, there’s rockslides, there’s uprooted trees, there’s unstable bridges. Communities have not been reached, we’ve been working hand in hand with disaster management and municipalities, we did what we call the low hanging fruit.”

Sooliman says areas such as Caledon, Genadendal and Riviersonderend remain inaccessible.

Western Cape municipalities are currently compiling damage assessments in order to present a motivation for a disaster declaration to the National Disaster Management Centre.

They say this is in order to qualify for potential financial assistance from national government.

Mop-up operations following devastating rain, wind damage in Cape Town