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Drought declared national disaster

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The Northern Cape, together with the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, had already been declared provincial disasters

HARD HIT: Sheep graze on land. Western Cape farmers have changed the way they do things as a result of the drought.

THE ONGOING drought in the Northern Cape has been reclassified from a provincial disaster to a national disaster.

In a statement released in the government gazette this week, the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), Dr Mmaphaka Tau, said that after re-assessing the magnitude and severity of the ongoing drought occurring in at least three provinces, disaster management had reclassified the drought as a national disaster.

The Northern Cape, together with the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, had already been declared provincial disasters.

“The primary responsibility to co-ordinate and manage the disaster, in terms of existing legislation and contingency arrangements, is designated to the national executive,” Tau said.

He added that organs of state were required to prepare and submit reports, required by the disaster management, “to the respective intergovernmental forums as listed therein”.

The Northern Cape Department of Agriculture (NCDoA) has indicated that the areas in the Northern Cape most affected by the drought are the winter rainfall areas in the western and southern parts of the Province, where approximately 24 million hectares of land is affected.

“According to the official carrying capacity map, this represents approximately 700 000 large stock units. Large portions of Namaqua and Pixley ka Seme districts are still experiencing severe drought conditions and, added to that, the Namaqua district has been receiving below normal rainfall since 2010,” NCDoA spokesperson, Ali Diteme, said.

He added that to date, 595 small-scale, 403 medium-scale and 1 382 commercial farmers have applied for drought relief in the affected areas.

– Norma Wildenboer