KZN floods: Ramaphosa admits govt was not 'as ready as it should be'


  • Government wasn't as "ready as it should be" for the floods in KwaZulu-Natal, President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted.
  • Ramaphosa was speaking to businesspeople in Durban on Sunday.
  • He said the impact of climate change should be integrated into all aspects of government planning.

The recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal proved to government that it is "not as ready as it should be", President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa revealed this during his closing remarks at a meeting of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, which was also attended by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala and several ministers on Sunday morning. 

Ramaphosa said a "great many lessons have been learnt" from the disaster.

"As government, we must now prioritise, as we work together, with regard to the integration of climate change and its associated impacts into all government planning," he said.

"And it is in this regard that where we will say this is also where we will need to work together. Because even if we plan, we don't plan what happens in the city or in the metro on our own. We have other key role players."

READ | Disasters like KZN floods doubled in frequency owing to climate change - study

According to Ramaphosa, this includes climate-proofing human settlements, building climate resilience in the agricultural sector, and constructing climate resilient infrastructure.

"We need a complete overhaul, particularly now that we know we are susceptible to climate change vagaries both on the eastern seaboard of our country, as well as, as Minister Dlamini-Zuma often says, on the western side where the droughts are quite severe.

"Our collective state of readiness for natural disasters, has to be drastically improved and disaster risk assessments by all provinces have to be regular and have to be ongoing."

He said: 

This disaster proved to us that we are not as ready as we should be.

Ramaphosa said municipalities, provinces and departments would now be expected to develop, update, review and submit their disaster management and contingency plans to the National Disaster Management Council.

They were also addressing mechanisms to improve access to provincial and municipal disaster relief funding.

"Another issue also under discussion is the scope for provinces and municipalities to delegate certain disaster relief functions to well-capacitated institutions if they lack the capacity."

READ | 2019 floods should have been a clear warning to govt, says climate expert on KZN floods

All organs of state have to develop practical risk-informed disaster management and contingency plans that can be implemented at short notice.

Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by the eThekwini Metro's efforts around early warning systems and raising awareness in communities about the impacts of climate change and the extreme weather associated with it.

He said engagement with communities, especially around constructing dwellings in high-risk and flood-prone areas, was critical in preventing loss of life in future.

"We have agreed in today's meeting that our foremost priority now must be on helping the people of KwaZulu-Natal to rebuild their lives and to assist business in the province to get its economic recovery programme back on track."

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