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R80 m for drought relief in Province


This “important” project would benefit farmers who suffered extensive, multiple damages due to flooding of the Orange River

Picture: Mike Hutchings / Reuters / African News Agency (ANA)

THE MINISTER of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has made funding of nearly R80 million available for drought relief in the Northern Cape.

Mzhize was speaking at a 2018 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDR) event in Upington recently, where he called for better planning and co-ordination to implement disaster risk reduction plans.

The minister indicated that even though the country received summer rainfalls in different parts, drought conditions persisted, particularly in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, where provincial state of disasters were declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

He highlighted funding totalling R79.1 million, allocated to deal with the challenges of drought during 2017/2018. For the 2018/19 financial year, R42.3 million was allocated to the provincial Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development for the transportation and provision of livestock feed to the affected farming communities.

A further R36.8 million was allocated to the Department of Water and Sanitation for water infrastructure projects in municipalities across the Province. This included R4.6 million for Kareeberg, R15.1 million for Richtersveld, R4.5 million for Nama Khoi, R8.5 for Hantam and R3.9 million for Kamiesberg.

During his visit to Upington, Mkhize also undertook a site visit to the 323km flood diversion wall project in the vicinity of Upington along the banks of the Orange River.

He said that this “important” project would benefit farmers who suffered extensive, multiple damages due to flooding of the Orange River.

Once fully completed the project will have cost around R1.1 billion.

“From the disaster point of view, this wall protects economic investment such as the farms managed by the emerging farmers. The principles concerned with the challenge of drought in the Northern Cape saw an exponential increase in invader plant populations, which outcompetes the population and native vegetation for water. The high proportions of prosopis invader plant species with its deep root systems and high water consumption deplete the groundwater table with a potential to cause land degradation and ultimately desertification,” Mkhize concluded.