Eastern Cape hardest hit by drought

Image: Randell Roskruge

The Eastern Cape is the  “worst hit” province by the persistent drought that has gripped SA since 2015, human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Monday.

The proverbial Day Zero is a reality for most parts of the province, she said, but would not say how much national government would pump into the Eastern Cape to address the problem.

The Eastern Cape was declared  a disaster area, meaning Pretoria would allocate millions of rand to drought relief programmes.

Sisulu was addressing the media in East London just after she had met with premier Oscar Mabuyane and his cabinet to discuss ways to respond to the worsening drought situation in the province.

While Sisulu was mum on how much they would allocate to the province, Mabuyane said they needed at least R600m to address the disaster in the interim.

Sisulu said the drought was being felt in other provinces such as Limpopo and the Northern Cape, but   households in the Eastern Cape, especially in rural areas, the agricultural sector and businesses, had been  hit hardest.

She was accompanied by her two deputy ministers, Pam Tshwete and David Mahlobo, and an entourage of her department’s administration bosses, who were later on Monday due to visit the drought-stricken Butterworth area.

Though the provincial department of rural development & agrarian reform  allocated at least R74m to farmers late in 2019 — the consequences of the drought have been dire with food supply threatened and livestock dying because of dam levels that have plummeted to below 10% in some areas.

Sisulu said her department would give special focus to drought “hotspot areas” around Ngqushwa municipality, Mnquma, Mbhashe, Raymond Mhlaba, Cala, Ngcobo, Makana, Graaff-Reinet and Enoch Mgijima.

Buffalo City Metro has already implemented stage three water restrictions because of dwindling dam levels.

The water restrictions in the metro were introduced in late November.

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