Northern Cape farmers await drought relief funds as dry spell persists in parts of SA

Image: Reuters

The City of Cape Town says water supply and use will never again be what it was before the drought.

Drought stricken Northern Cape farmers are still waiting for their share of a R36 million drought relief fund.

The money returns to Treasury after the middle of next month, with thousands of job losses recorded in the sector.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the funds have been available since March, but officials failed to distribute them.

“Everything is in place for provinces to react quickly. Remember we have legislation in place, the disaster management act of 2003, which is giving all the duties and responsibilities from national level through to provincial level but it appears to me that there’s not inter-governmental relations between other departments and that is the biggest hiccup,” says the DA’s Reinette Liebenberg.

Northern Cape farmers await drought relief fund:

20 000 cattle dead in KZN

Meanwhile, at least 20 000 cattle have died due to drought since August at KwaMnqwashu, in the Umkhanyakude district, in KwaZulu-Natal. More than 500 farmers have been affected, according to reports by the provincial Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department. Small and emerging farmers in the area have called for help as some of them have, respectively, lost more than 30 cattle as a result of the drought.

Alpheus Madonsela is an emerging farmer at KwaMnqwashu in the Umkhanyakude district in northern KwaZulu-Natal. In 2017, the district was declared a disaster area due to drought. There are fears that drought may worsen the situation for local farmers. Madonsela says in 2014, he lost 28 cattle and four this year. He says the persistence of drought will cripple their lives as they depend on their livestock to support their families.

“We don’t have water in this area and our livestock is dying. All dams are dry and sometimes we have to travel almost five km to get water for our livestock. I have four cattle as I am speaking,” he says.

Madonsela adds that sometimes they have to travel a very long distance to Jozini so they can buy feed for cattle, which is costly.

“Those who have means of transport are able to go to Mjindi at Jozini to buy food for cattle, but I can’t do that as I don’t have a car and this food is too expensive.”

KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC, Bongi Sithole-Moloi says the department  is to intervene.

“We have started intervening by bringing food for their animals. When there is drought we put measures to mitigate the drought, as today we will leave fifty bellies and we will measure how long its gonna take and we will come back. Its something that we don’t plan to have it.”

KZN farmers appeal for drought relief and government intervention in Jozini:

City of Cape Town launches water strategy

The City of Cape Town launched its new water strategy in February to mitigate drought effects. The lessons learnt from the ongoing drought and the near catastrophic events two years ago were used as the basis for a long-term plan. It includes, among others, a greater mix of water use and less reliance on surface water.

The City of Cape Town has been making use of rain and dam catchments for the last century, but the crisis that threatened to make Cape Town the first city in the world to run out of water, has shifted its thinking on water usage.

Citizens came to the party and reduced consumption by nearly 60%.

The City says water supply and use will never again be what it was before the drought.

The City’s Xanthea Limberg says the strategy aims to guide Cape Town to becoming a water resilient city by 2030.

“It aims to guide Cape Town to becoming a water resilient city by 2030 and achieve a water-sensitive city status by 2040. A water-sensitive city is one that is resilient, livable, productive and sustainable. In a water-sensitive city, we interact with urban water cycle in ways that provide water security through efficient use of diverse available resources, enhance and protect the health of our waterways, wetlands and coast, mitigate flood risk and damage and create public spaces that collect clean and recyclable water.”

Current rainfall patterns show that the city is still drought-stricken. A shift to ground water extraction, alien vegetation clearing in catchment areas and the establishment of a large scale desalination plant are some of the alternative measures.

Interventions of technical programmes such as water pressure management have saved 2.6 billion litres of water in a year. The replacement of nearly 70km of sewerage and water main pipes annually continues to reduce leaks.

Director of Water and Sanitation in the City of Cape Town, Michael Webster, says the current state of rivers is not up to standard and a fair portion is unsafe. Billions will be spent on water quality.

“We have 25 waste water treatment works throughout the city. We have an aggressive investment programme to upgrade all of those that need upgrading over the next 10 years. This is part of the capital programme that’s underway in our waste water treatment programmes. As you can see during this financial year, we are spending R850 million on our waste water treatment works and that goes up to R1.4 billion by 2023.”

The city says climate uncertainty makes it difficult to plan and very little data exist on what the future holds, but its strategy will aim to ensure that Cape Town never again faces a looming day zero.

In the video below, Cape Town launches a water strategy: 

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