Drought costs KZN R400?mln

2014-10-13 00:00

THE recent light spattering of rain was having little impact on the province’s drought concerns, University of Kwa­Zulu-Natal Professor Albert Modi said yesterday.

Modi, a crop scientist, said businesses and livelihoods were still at stake and more rain was needed to stave off a crisis.

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) said damage was running into millions of rands and the provincial cabinet has endorsed recommendations to declare disaster areas in all regions affected by severe droughts.

UMkhanyakude, uThungulu, Ilembe, Zululand, uMgungundlovu, Harry Gwala, uMzinyathi and uThukela have received rainfall well below average and this has affected water levels in various catchment areas.

Modi said the weather patterns have changed. “You can drive from Durban, for five kilometres you find that there is rain and in other parts there is no rain. Some farmers will get rain, some will not get any and others will get floods,” he said.

He said normally the country ­received about 450 mm of rain on average, and the majority of this rain falls within the eastern seaboard of the country with KwaZulu-Natal getting the ­lion’s share of the rainfall.

He said below-average rainfall over a sustained period meant the amount of water that is stored declined.

And to make matters worse, because of the long dry periods water was lost through evaporation, he said.

“Because of the change in weather patterns, there are floods, and water stored is lost through irrigation.”

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said they estimate the drought had caused damage to the tune of R400 million.

“Our preliminary assessment of damages to the province, especially to livestock and crops, currently stands at R400 million but this is by no means the final tally as our assessment teams continue to take stock of the water crisis on the ground,” said Dube-Ncube.

“The effects of droughts are now treated as an emergency with all our capacity being placed at the disposal of the affected regions. The declaration of disaster areas also opens the way for additional assistance and funding for KZN from the national government,” said Dube-Ncube.

She said communities should play their part by conserving the little water that is still available.

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