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Sassa to handle social relief for disasters in Cape Town

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The City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC), will no longer be distributing and handling and coordinating humanitarian relief efforts for disasters like fires and floods, as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is handling the provision of social relief to disaster victims.

The City has been handling the distribution of materials for communities affected by disaster for many years. After conducting an inspection of the situation, City disaster management officials would dispatch local non-profit organisations whichnot affiliated with the city to manage and distribute the materials.

The City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith said that his officials have seen a significant decline in turnaround time, with disaster material distribution since Sassa took over.  He says that the City is notifying the public that they are no longer handling the disaster relief materials. They have been getting many complains with regards to the service delays.

“Cape Town was the only city in the country [South Africa] that had a service level agreement with NGOs such as the Mustadafin Foundation, Salvation Army and Historically Disadvantaged Individual (HDI). They would provide relief including food, blankets and vanity packs to the affected communities. Their claims to be reimbursed would be verified by the Disaster Risk Management Centre and submitted to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for payment,” said Smith.

The City will now inform SASSA of incidents where relief is needed, as they don’t have assistance on ground. The few hours after the disaster has taken place is the critical time, which the emergency material is needed for the victims’ affected.

“We are now putting the matter on record so the public understand who to engage around this. I’m now getting complaints of cases taking up to five days, or routinely between one and two days. We were managing the turnaround time of between one to four hours average,” he added.

Approaching the end of 2017, SASSA rearranged their policies and changed their funding services. Smith said the social agency decided to take over the handing and management of humanitarian relief and do the assessments of the damages.

But Sassa Western Cape spokesperson Shivani Wahab insists that the agency has “not taken over” any functions of the city’s disaster management centre.

“To ensure compliance with the Public Finance Management Act and Sassa supply chain policy, Sassa will still take responsibility for the activation of immediate relief via service providers in line with our Sassa Social Relief of Distress Policy.”

She explained that the ‘Social Relief of Distress’ policy details the immediate response to a crisis situation and short term assistance. The qualifying criteria for Social Relief of Distress must include “undue hardship” and each case is assessed by a social worker. Any relief will be provided in the form of cash, a voucher or food parcels.

Thus, the new procedure to activate social relief to disaster victims is that the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre will notify SASSA of incidents where relief is required. SASSA will then assume responsibility for notifying the service provider of the request at hand and will also monitor the delivery of social relief to the disaster victims.

Smith said in the last quarter of 2017, the Disaster Risk Management Centre facilitated relief for 4224 people affected by then local disasters.

“Even though the city is no longer managing the facility, the City will continue to provide materials for affected residents, to assist in the rebuild of their homes where required. We will work close with SASSA to ensure that notifications are received and responded to as soon as possible.” VOC


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