The recent decision to revoke the classification of the ongoing drought as a national disaster could have dire consequences for the Eastern Cape.
While other provinces across the country may have received much needed rain over recent months, the Eastern Cape, and specifically the western half of the province, is still facing severe water shortages.
This has had a crippling impact on agriculture in the province and is also posing a significant risk to residents as well, with many taps running dry.
Nelson Mandela Bay is of great concern, as the Metro faces the challenge of ensuring funds to upgrade its existing water infrastructure to mitigate the loss of supply when the dams run dry.
The Kouga Dam is the biggest storage dam in the region and is one of the dams providing Nelson Mandela Bay with water.
This dam is currently at only 7.24% of capacity and also supplies the Kouga Municipality and famers in the Gamtoos Valley with water.
As from 1 July 2020, the water allocations to both the Kouga Municipality and the Gamtoos Valley farmers have been severely restricted by the Department of Water Affairs, with farmers allocation cut by a staggering 80% of their normal allocation.
Across the province farmers in smaller towns such as Willowmore, Steytlerville and Aberdeen are on their knees and have received little to no assistance from the Eastern Cape Government.
“A drought disaster declaration will allow provincial government to lobby for additional drought mitigation funding from national government to come to the rescue of the hard-hit municipalities and farmers.
Government needs to act now, if there is to be any hope to save our province and its people from this ongoing drought disaster,” said Retief Odendaal from the Democratic Alliance