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City rainfall still below 2017


The reclassification of the drought as a national disaster was done by the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre

Picture: Danie van der Lith

WHILE Government has declared a national state of disaster to deal with the country’s drought and water crisis, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) has reported a decrease in rainfall in Kimberley during 2018, compared with the same period during 2017.

Manager of the SAWS’s National Climate Centre, Elsa de Jager, yesterday released rainfall figures measured in Kimberley during January and February 2018, compared to the figures measured during the same period in 2017, at Kimberley’s two weather stations

While it might seem to many that good rains have fallen in the city since the start of 2018, figures released by De Jager has pointed to the contrary, especially with regard to January and February.

Referring to the rainfall measured at the Kimberley Weather Station, the SAWS reported that 83.2 mm of rain was measured during January 2017 and 109 mm during February 2017. In 2018, these numbers decreased with 63.8 mm measured during January 2018 and 27.6 mm during February 2018.

At the Kimberley Golf Club Weather Station, 109 mm was measured during January 2017, while only 69 mm was reported during the same month in 2018. During February 2017, 134.7mm was measured while this number dropped to 58 mm during February 2018.

However, more rain has already fallen this month in comparison with a year ago, according to the figures from the Kimberley Weather Station, with 50.6 mm measured from March 1 to March 15 2018, compared to only 5.4 mm during the entire March 2017.

De Jager added that while 10.8 mm of rain was measured at the Golf Club Weather Station during 2017, the figure for March 2018, was not yet available.

In the rest of the Northern Cape, only a handful of towns, including Boetsap, Danielskuil, Loeriesfontein, Magareng, Noupoort, Strydenburg, Upington and Vaalharts received more than their monthly average rainfall during February, 2018, according to the SAWS.

Loeriesfontein received 228% of its average for February, after 26 mm was recorded (versus a 12mm average for this time of the year).

The latest figures show that Kimberley only received 38% of its average rainfall for February (72 mm), while Kenhardt only 19% of its 26 mm average, Britstown only 5%, (2 mm measured vs an average of 44 mm), and Fraserburg only 9% of its 26 mm average .

Meanwhile, government has declared a national state of disaster to deal with the country’s drought and water crisis.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement on behalf of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Drought and Water Scarcity this week.

Mkhize said government “stood ready” to provide financial assistance where necessary and subject to legal prescripts.

During the National Budget Speech, it was announced that a provisional allocation of R6 billion had been set aside in the 2018/19 financial year for several purposes, including drought relief and to augment public infrastructure investment.

Mkhize said measures were being put in place to ensure that requests for funding were being considered, as received from the provinces. The reclassification of the drought as a national disaster was done by the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre during February.

The reclassification of drought as a national disaster designated the primary responsibility for the coordination and management of the disaster to the national executive, who must act in close cooperation with the other spheres of government to deal with the disaster and its consequences. The declaration covers a period of three months.

Mkhize said that three provinces, including Western Cape, some parts of the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape, were “extremely affected”, and were not yet showing comforting signs of improvement.

“At this stage there is no indication to support rainfall that is more than 25 mm for the Western and Northern Cape Provinces, except perhaps a low likelihood along the southern coastal areas,” Mkhize said.

According to a report released by the Department of Water and Sanitation last week, South Africa’s dams saw an improvement by a fraction of a percent (0.2 percent), compared to their levels a week before.

The department indicated that the levels went up from 63.2 percent to 63.4 percent.

The report showed that the drought-stricken Western Cape maintains the lowest dam levels in the country at 25.5 percent, having dropped from 26.1 percent in the previous week.

Despite the scarcity of rain, Gauteng has the highest dam levels at 92.8 percent, followed by Mpumalanga at 77.9 percent and Northern Cape at 67.9 percent.

Mkhize, however warned that these levels did not imply that these provinces were “out of the woods in terms of drought conditions”, as water scarcity remained a common condition of most of the communities calling for a change of behaviour and the safe use of water.