Drought could be declared national disaster by Feb 14

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Gabi Zietsman (Traveller24)
Gabi Zietsman (Traveller24)

Cape Town - The National Disaster Management Centre will say by February 14 whether it will declare the drought and overall water scarcity in some provinces a national disaster, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen said on Thursday.

"Currently, efforts are under way to classify the drought as a national disaster," Van Rooyen said at a media briefing in Cape Town.

"This process will be finalised on or before February 14, 2018."

He said the process of declaration was prescribed in the Disaster Management Act.

The three provinces - the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape - have already been declared provincial disasters.

The first step in terms of the act, would be to reclassify them national disasters.

The regulations linked to the act might touch on by-laws and guidance on procurement, so the department will move to identify impediments on spending given to all provinces to deal with the situation.

It also became clear that the department might have to look into supply chain issues, which slowed some water initiatives down.

ALSO READ: Western Cape govt releases extra R82.5m to tackle drought

"Managing a disaster is a very legislatively prescribed process," Van Rooyen said, amid calls for the decision to declare a national disaster sooner.

The Department of Water and Sanitation will continue to monitor the 214 major dams in the country, after it emerged that the national average level for dams is 58.8%.

He added that some parts of KwaZulu-Natal were also struggling with drought conditions and countrywide, there has not been a proper recovery in areas hit by drought since 2014.

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