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Relief for drought-hit areas in Western Cape

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The Western Cape’s Disaster Management Centre has assured that it has enough resources in place to prevent taps running dry in areas most affected by drought, amid one of the country’s biggest water shortages in years.

In the Western Cape, the agriculture sector in areas like the Central Karoo and West Coast has been hit hard by an on-going drought caused by a weather phenomenon known as El Niño, a period of warming sea-surface temperatures. In Southern Africa El Niño generally results in a period of minimal rainfall.

To provide relief for the drought-stricken areas local government has opted to declared affected regions as disaster zones, which has allowed it to channel additional funds for relief to farmers and certain rural towns.

“Together with the National Disaster Management Centre we did a very thorough assessment and classification and at this stage we have decided not to declare a provincial disaster, but rather just disaster zones in those specific areas,” said Colin Deiner of Western Cape Disaster Management.

One of the provinces’ key objectives is to zero in on the Central Karoo and West Coast to assist farmers in addressing agricultural issues. This includes the provision of fodder for farm animals.

Deiner noted that despite a major shortage of rainfall over the current season the province still had a very strong groundwater system, something that would help alleviate the pressure over the rest of the summer.

“At the moment the prognosis is that we will be able to survive this period, but clearly going into our winter rainfall season we are going to need good rain,” he noted.

Disaster Management has also channelled focus towards towns in the affected areas, improving the infrastructure and systems that provide water to the respective communities.

“Thankfully in this province we don’t face a problem where taps are running dry and we’re not sitting with a drinking water problem,” he highlighted.

Deiner added that the province’s prior experiences with drought, particularly during a severe water crisis in 2009/2010, had contributed towards improving the provincial government’s planning for such crises.

“There were a lot of lessons learnt over that period which actually stood us well in terms of our planning and monitoring. We’ve now got a lot of systems and monitoring processes in place to keep our eyes on what is happening at the moment in the province,” he explained.

The City of Cape Town has also played its part in trying to curb water usage amongst citizens by implementing stage two water restrictions. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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