The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working on Fire (WoF) programme has plans in place to support farmers who are affected by climate change.
“During El Nino farmers continuously experience veld fires on an ongoing basis. Just this year for instance, we anticipate that we will have to fight fires that are close to 3 000,” said Environmental Affairs Minister Ednah Molewa.
Minister Molewa indicated that there is a budget allocated to support small and commercial farmers.
“We’ve allocated R528 million just in this financial year alone. Working on Fire has got almost R1,3 billion allocated to assist farmers,” said Minister Molewa.
The Working on Fire programme has also created a total of 13 660 jobs in the past three years.
The programme was launched in 2003 as part of government’s drive to create jobs and alleviate poverty.
“This programme has the capacity to provide many more jobs, necessitating the need for a higher budget,” said Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
The total expenditure for the Working on Fireprogramme for the 2012/13 financial year was R404 205 524, in the 2013/14 financial year it was R405 540 125 and in the 2014/15 financial year it amounted to R508 222 000.
“There is a major need for fire management capacity from WoF for both using fire for ecosystem management and combatting wild fires,” Minister Molewa said.
The programme ensures that South Africa’s Biodiversity and Ecosystems are protected and contribute to socio-economic growth as well job creation.
The programme is one of several departmental programmes under implementation through government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The EPWP has been the primary vehicle through which the Department of Environmental Affairs has delivered on its job creation mandate.
“Today more than 5 000 young men and women are employed through the programme. They are recruited from marginalised communities and trained in fire awareness and education, prevention and fire suppression skills,” said the department said.
They are trained as veld and forest fire fighters and are stationed in more than 200 teams throughout South Africa.
“Furthermore a total of 592 Black Economic Empowerment compliant suppliers have benefited from the programme between 2013 and 2015, to the value of R395 144 169.00,” said the department.