Minister Des Van Rooyen said his department was close to declaring the drought gripping the Western Cape as a national disaster. File picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Cape Town - Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Des Van Rooyen says his department was close to declaring the drought gripping the Western Cape as a national disaster.

He was addressing the Parliament’s water and sanitation portfolio committee in his capacity as head of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team set up to deal with the crisis.

He said the three provinces currently experiencing extreme drought, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape will be classified as disaster areas by 14 February.

“We are currently supporting the head of the disaster management centre to classify this drought as a national disaster. This process we hope to have it finalised before Wednesday day the 14 of February,

“Consultations to this effect are in their final stages  to prepare information for the entity to consider mandating myself to declare a national state of disaster. We are hoping as an entity that this will be finalised within a month from now,” said Van Rooyen.

In an effort to address the drought crisis in the Western Cape, Van Rooyen said Cogta through the treasury has allocated R74.8 million do deal with the drought crisis.

“We have implemented a number of measures which as we speak are bearing fruits. These include issuing early warning messages on a regular basis, drilling and equipping of boreholes across all provinces, application of water restrictions across all affected regions, provision of animal feed, water tankering in areas of severe needs and reduction of water usage by industries and all users,” said Van Rooyen.

He further cautioned that there are other factors that may be worsening the water crisis in the province other than increase in water usage. He placed the current leadership of the Western Cape in the spotlight.

“There are factors which increase vulnerability to drought and its severity. These factors include the state of local government and its ability to provide services in a sustainable manner and to maintain those services. The capacity of disaster management centres at local, provincial and national level,” he said.

He said the City of Cape Town has requested additional funding of R6.8 billion for water infrastructure and R2 million for the Drakenstein water infrastructure.

Cogta Head of the National Disaster Management Centre Mmaphaka Tau said their department facilitated immediate relief funding through treasury to address the immediate needs for both hydrological and agricultural drought.

Through the Municipal Disaster Grant for drought intervention, the City of Cape Town was allocated R74.8 million which was approved by treasury in August 2017 to provide assistance within the affected sectors in the Western Cape.

“About R10.9 million was allocated to Bitou Local Municipality for drilling of boreholes and installation of water pumps and pipelines R10.9 million. R3.1 million was allocated to the Theewaterskloof Local Municipality for drilling of boreholes and installation of water pumps and pipelines,” said Tau.

He also told the committee that the City of Cape was not able to spend money allocated for disaster relief. The City has only spent 40% of its allocated funds for the drought disaster.

Political Bureau