Western Cape area to declare water disaster

Cape Town - The Western Cape province will ask the national government to classify the region’s water shortages as a disaster, enabling farmers to apply for financial assistance, it said.

“Our assessments of the provincial water situation found more than one region or district municipality in the province is experiencing very dry and water-stressed conditions,” Anton Bredell, the minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning, said in an emailed statement.

“This led to the request to the provincial cabinet for a disaster classification.” The decision was taken on Wednesday, he said.

Part of the request will be for funding to be made available for relief in the province, whose Disaster Management Centre is updating its preparation plans in case the situation worsens, it said. Farmers who have not adopted conservation agriculture are reporting a possible 50% decline in yields, it said.

Farmer lobby group Agri Western Cape said it is in the process of determining where the need for feed in the region is and where feed is available.

“Conditions in especially the West Coast District Municipality and the Central Karoo are extremely worrying and the rural economies that were affected by the drought will need a long period of time to recover,” it said in an emailed statement.

South Africa’s worst drought since 1992 is damaging crops and livestock, with the nation’s weather service predicting below-normal rain for the next four months. The government has already declared disaster areas in several provinces of the country that’s the continent’s biggest corn and sugar grower.

The Western Cape produces the bulk of the country’s wheat and wine grapes.

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