Eastern Cape Drought relief funding could lapse

The Eastern Cape could lose out on any drought relief funding requested from the National Government, should premier Oscar Mabuyane not extend the provincial disaster declaration by today.

The province has requested R643 million from national government for drought relief and has made R74 million available provincially.

Even if the national government provides all the requested funding, there is still a significant shortfall, with organised agriculture estimating the actual relief needed to be closer to R1,8 billion.

“In terms of the Disaster Management Act, the declaration of a provincial state of disaster lapses three months after it was declared, but it may be extended by the Premier a month at a time, but only if this is done before the original declaration lapses,” said Retief Odendaal the Democratic Alliance Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform .

“The extension of the declaration is a crucial step in ensuring the province remains eligible for the disaster relief funding from national government that we have applied for.

Despite the recent rains, the province is still in the midst of a prolonged drought which has the potential to financially destroy hundreds of farmers, both emerging and commercial,” added Odendaal.

“These farmers are looking to the provincial government to support them in their time of need, just as they have supported the economy of the Eastern Cape for decades.

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Towns and cities are on the verge of collapse as water sources are drying up. With no water these urban settlements will not be able to survive, and we will see mass exoduses of residents and businesses.

It is therefore vital that the provincial government does everything in its power to secure drought relief for those affected,” added Odendaal.

The Kouga Municipality received R 151 million in drought relief funding from National Treasury. The money is being used to bring more ground water into the grid through additional bore holes.

The projects are expected to be completed by the end of April.

Once this happens, towns like St Francis Bay, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay will have water security should the dams run dry.

At present the Kouga Dam is at 22 % of capacity.

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