Five provinces declared water disaster areas - as it happened

2015-11-13 09:53

Cooperative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan has said that five provinces have been declared water disaster areas, speaking at an inter-ministerial briefing in Pretoria. Read on for how the briefing unfolded.

- How have you been affected? Share your stories.


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Last Updated at 20:40
13 Nov 12:09

With that, the press briefing concludes.

News24 will be closing this live update. Read on for how the media briefing unfolded in Pretoria...

13 Nov 12:08

Minister for Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane says they are working on dealing with water leaks.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says the issue about El Nino is being handled by the weather service and they have an idea of how things will look until the end of summer.

Molewa says there are other influences causing El Nino, including winds blowing on the oceans.

"It's not a given that things will be like that. There will be sporadic rain and sometimes even thunderstorms."

13 Nov 12:06
"Normally, water in the system should be able to cater for everyone but it's about how we use it," says Rand Water CEO Percy Sechemane.

13 Nov 12:04

Rand Water CEO's says the company has plans that by March next year, they want to put in 200 mega litres in the system.

By 2018, they should 100 mega litres over that.

13 Nov 12:02

Tau also says the city has looked into the possibility of cleaning acid mine water.

"We have done a study of how it can be done. The results will be communicated to the minister," he concludes.

13 Nov 12:01

"We have to now find ways to endorse behavioral change. For us that is very important," says Tau.

"We want to get to a stage where we can ask people to reduce water for gardening without having to police them."

13 Nov 11:56
Tau: 46% of the water supplied to domestic users is particularly going towards gardening. We have to encourage people to change behavior.

13 Nov 11:55
Tau says the city has agreed to initiate a process to assist Rand Water to reach equilibrium and get its water levels to optimum to ensure demand can be met.

13 Nov 11:54
Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau now speaking...

13 Nov 11:54

"We are going to put a lot of pressure on our municipalities to react to problems and leaks," says Gordhan.

13 Nov 11:53

Gordhan responds to the question on the Vaal River, and water infrastructure in general.

"The water system in South Africa is a very dynamic one. You can shift water around from different areas.

"We want municipalities to provide clear details of interruption to supplies."

13 Nov 11:49

A second question on soft loans for farmers:

"We have prepared for this eventuality, there will be a meeting very soon with stakeholders," says Agriculture Minsiter Senzeni Zokwana.

Zokwana says they have met with the banks in trying to ensure soft loans can be given to augment the losses they are facing.

13 Nov 11:41
One journalist asks, given the importance of the Vaal River system, how will we manage it going forward?

13 Nov 11:31
The briefing now turns to a time of questions...

13 Nov 11:31
Picture taken by News24's Karabo Ngoepe:

13 Nov 11:25
"We see livestock as a national asset, so we are seeing this as an opportunity to improve communal farming habits, he concludes.

13 Nov 11:24

"We are targeting communal land. That is where the hardest hit farmers are, especially communal land farmers," says Nkwinti.

"We also have a programme to assist communal farmers with their livestock. Many of them can't move their livestock at the drop of the hate.

"We've been struggling to get them to relocate. We have set aside R127m to aid with this."

13 Nov 11:21
Gugile Nkwinti, Rural Development Minister is now speaking...

13 Nov 11:18

"In conclusion, I'm inviting the media houses to support the efforts of government," says Zokwana.

"We want to identify areas where there are problems so we can assist in these areas, we have people on the ground."

13 Nov 11:14
"The department is providing R2.6m to help with assisting farmers affected by the drought."

13 Nov 11:12
"This drought will have an impact on SADC neighbours too."

13 Nov 11:11

"About 8 million tonnes are consumed in the country. We are the largest maize producer on the continent.

"The main maize growing areas is North West, Mpumalanga and KZN, areas most affected by the drought.

"Yellow maize stocks will be severely tight and we may need to be supplemented."

13 Nov 11:09

"Farmers may struggle to service their loans, and it could affect their credit-worthiness.

"It will also affect the hunger problems, with a decrease in yellow and white maize possible."

13 Nov 11:08
"The current drought covers all provinces, some only in part, others the whole province."

13 Nov 11:07
"As a department we are trying to reverse what this situation has caused in terms of job creation," says Zokwana.

13 Nov 11:06
Senzeni Zokwana, Agriculture Minister now speaking...

13 Nov 11:05

"One of the areas we are redesigning is how toilets operate. We are looking to replace the traditional toilets, which use 6 to 8 litres, to ones that use 4 litres.

"We are also investigating the use of boreholes."

13 Nov 11:03
"A helpline has been set up for the community at 08 00 200 200," says Mokonyane.

13 Nov 11:02

"It is well known that the Vaal River supports 40% of the economy, and 60% of the country.

"It's important we secure the viability of the Vaal River."

13 Nov 10:57

"The Free State province, we continue to use our existing funding vehicles.

"We've also agreed to install a pipeline in the province from the Orange River to Mangaung for not more than R2bn."

13 Nov 10:56
"We have identified 92 springs in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal for possible access."

13 Nov 10:55


"South Africa is one of the countries that uses gray water least," says Mokonyane.

"We are working with mines and other sectors to re-harvest water that is contaminated [and otherwise unusable]."

13 Nov 10:52

"We are working with Dept of Agriculture to ensure the promotion of food security [to these affected areas]," she continues.

"We are looking at the creation of capacity to improve access to water banks to deserving households."

13 Nov 10:51

"We urge community to work with government, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and the North West, where the drought has been most severe."

The department allocated R352.6m initially, and supplemented that with R96.6m to mitigate the effects of the drought, Mokonyane says.

13 Nov 10:48
"We don't envisage the problem will extend into the medium and long term in Gauteng."

13 Nov 10:48
The drought though has only affected 173 of the 1628 water supply schemes nationally, saving water for 18.2% of the national population.

13 Nov 10:45

"Let me begin by sharing some figures on water security," she continues.

- South Africa is naturally water strained, the 30th driest in the world

- South Africa's average rainfall is 464 mm, whereas the global average is 860 mm

- Our storage capacity this year is 64.3%, compared to 74.6% last year.

- There are 238 schemes nationally to deal with this.

- KZN is sitting at 67%, but four damns are at critical levels.

13 Nov 10:43
"A water shortage is when the demand for water outweighs the supply of water," says Mokonyane.

13 Nov 10:42
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvule Mokonyane now speaking...

13 Nov 10:42

"Let me be frank with you," says Gordhan.

"As political parties are moving toward the elections, they believe you as media should decry everything we do, and portray to the South African public that we have no idea what's going on. But the contrary is true, we have plans on the ground.

"Let me invite Nomvule Mokonyane [Water and Sanitation minister]."

13 Nov 10:40
"We have to be ready in all aspects as we move into the summer season," she concludes.

13 Nov 10:39
Molewa: There are other water issues to consider, like the survival of alien plant species.

13 Nov 10:37
"The use of biotechnology and bio-techniques is already in place. We're doing research with the Dept of Agriculture to implement these new plans.

"We have other means, like the GMO executive council and health council."

13 Nov 10:34
Adaption plans that have been completed by a number of departments, including the Dept of Agriculture and the Dept of Water and Sanitation.

13 Nov 10:33

We are currently working on a long-term adaptation strategy, to help us adapt over a number of years to changing climates, she says.

"The key issue here is that climate change is an environmental change. It not only presents problems but also opportunities."

13 Nov 10:32

"We have plans to deal with the crisis at a sector level and at the different levels of government."

13 Nov 10:30

"El Nino is the heating of the ocean's currents, and it is likely to last for the duration of the summer season.

Temperatures will rise for more than 50% of Sub-Saharan Africa.

13 Nov 10:27
"We are currently experiencing a phenomenon called El Nino," says Molewa.

13 Nov 10:27
He now hands over to Edna Molewa, Minister in the Department for Environmental Affairs.

13 Nov 10:26

"We're looking for numbers at the moment to keep things in proportion," says Gordhan.

"Which parts of agriculture have been affected; which parts have not?"

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