Water Wednesday: Water crisis declared a national state of disaster

Inter-ministerial Task Team on Drought and Water Scarcity met this week to talk about the drought crisis in South Africa. Mkhize said during the briefing that they are announcing the declaration of the drought as a national state of disaster.

Minister Mkhize said government has taken measures to address underlying factors, including amongst others, weak intergovernmental relations arrangements in development planning and implementation, ageing infrastructure, lack of operations and maintenance of infrastructure, and capacity constraints particularly with regard to technical expertise.

“We will regularly report on progress with response and recovery measures being undertaken under the status of declared national state of drought disaster,” he said.

“Society must inculcate this culture of saving water as it is the only way future generations will deal with the declining water resources and growing demand for both human consumption, agricultural and industrial utilisation,” he continued.

One of the implementation strategies he mentioned was the war on water leaks programme where communities report all the water leaks. Municipalities will have to act by repairing the leaking pipes.

The National Joint Drought Coordination Committee (NJDCC) will meet monthly and continue coordinating integrated multi-sectoral intervention measures to address the drought situation in the affected provinces.

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

Water and Sanitation acting director-general Sifiso Mkhize told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that the department had R2.1 million irregular expenditure relating to transactions in the financial year prior to 2016-17 while R1.6bn of the irregular expenditure accounted for payments made in 2015-16, which were declared irregular in the following year. In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved DWS Minister Nomvula Mokonyane over to communications and replaced her with Gugile Nkwinti.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has implemented a four pronged strategy towards additional water in the Western Cape.

They will continue to monitor the levels of the 214 major dams. This information is critical in understanding the situation around availability of water in the systems to facilitate timeous and fit-for-the-purpose of interventions.

Here is your weekly dam update:

  • 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%), compared to their levels a week before.
  • The department indicated that the levels went up from 63.2% to 63.4%.
  • The report showed that the drought-stricken Western Cape maintains the lowest dam levels in the country at 25.5%, having dropped from 26.1% in the previous week.
  • Gauteng has the highest dam levels at 92.8%, followed by Mpumalanga at 77.9% and Northern Cape at 67.9%.

For a more in depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.


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