Disaster relief money starts flowing into Western Cape

Cape Town – The Western Cape government has received the first tranche of the money it needs to cope with the devastating drought and fires in the province, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen said on Tuesday.

The first tranche of R34 866 263 was transferred on August 21 to the municipalities of Cape Town, Bitou and Theewaterskloof and a second tranche of R40m, which is to be spent on livestock feed, will be sent to the province on August 31.

Following a tour to assess the situation, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) declared it a provincial disaster.

In July, the NDMC received funding requests from the Western Cape department of local government. Meetings were held to verify emergency funding projects, and assessments were conducted in the agricultural sector.

Although the province, and particularly the City of Cape Town, has introduced water-saving measures, and late winter to early spring rain seems likely, conditions are still unpredictable, the Drought Interministerial Task Team decided. It noted that there is even the possibility of flooding.

Requests to further reduce consumption

In addition, the agricultural sector is battling with livestock feed, and deteriorating grazing veld and pastures.

The Department of Agriculture would get a R40m Provincial Disaster Grant; the City of Cape Town would get a R20 812 483 Municipal Disaster Grant; Bitou Local Municipality would get a R10 920 000 Municipal Disaster Grant; and Theewaterskloof Local Municipality a R3 133 780 Municipal Disaster Grant.

The grants would be administered by COGTA.

A project management team is being established to monitor and provide oversight in order to ensure proper implementation of projects and the economical use of funding.

Meanwhile, the national Department of Water and Sanitation will monitor the levels of 43 dams in the Western Cape.

The City of Cape Town said dam storage levels had increased slightly to 34.2%, but only 24% of that water is usable. It has already put out feelers for the construction of desalination plants to produce an extra 500m litres of water a day.

Residents were also asked to cut back further to reduce consumption by 99m litres, to bring current consumption down to 500m litres of water a day.

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