Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says government has invested hundreds of millions of rands towards drought relief efforts.
Speaking during a Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster briefing recently, the Minister said the Department of Water and Sanitation had invested more than R450 million to intensify drought relief efforts.
“The resources allocated have been utilised for motorised water tankers, borehole drilling and rehabilitation as well as the improvement of dysfunctional infrastructure,” said Minister Dlamini.
As water shortages hit several areas across the country last year, government moved to assist those that were severely affected through the deployment of water tankers and the drilling of boreholes.
Minister Dlamini said additional water transfers from uThukela River to the Goedetrouw Dam, and from the Uthongathi River to the Hazelmere Dam were taking place continuously.
Also, water was still being released from the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme into the Caledon River to supplement the water supply to Mangaung.
“Government, working in partnership with civil society, will ensure that all communities have access to water,” she said
Farmers who needed support were urged to contact government urgently to receive the necessary assistance.
During the State of the Nation Address (SoNA) in the National Assembly recently, President Zuma said with five provinces - North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga - already having been seriously affected by drought, government was responding to the water shortage challenges.
The President also commended the civil society initiative, Operation Hydrate, among others, who have gone out of their way to provide the much needed water resources to communities in distress.
He said the building of water infrastructure remained important for the country to expand access of water to residential and industrial consumers.
The first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile Water Augmentation project in the Lephalale area in Limpopo was fully operational and would provide 30 million cubic meters of water per annum.
The raising of the Clan William Dam wall in the Western Cape, the President said, entailed raising the existing dam level by 13 metres to provide additional water supply.
Further, the Department of Water and Sanitation has begun its programme of training 15 000 young people as artisans to curb water wastage.
Countrywide drought road shows to be held
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana and Deputy Minister Bheki Cele have started drought relief road shows across the country.
The road shows kicked off at the Ekulindeni Community Hall in the Gert Sibande District Municipality, in Mpumalanga.
The Mpumalanga MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs Andries Gamede hosted the first road show.
The Minister and the MEC were expected to distribute animal feed, water tanks and also engage farmers during the road shows.
“The Minister and the Deputy Minister will visit farmers affected by the drought to monitor progress made by provinces on the provision of drought relief measures,” said the department.
Government has established a drought response coordination mechanism comprised of the Technical and Inter-Ministerial Committee.
The department said the provincial government has responded through the re-prioritisation of the available resources.
“A comprehensive plan was developed and the department has spent R318 726 million on drought relief,” it said.