National drought disaster declaration: A step in the right direction

Urgent requests of farmers in drought-stricken areas of the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape provinces for drought relief did not fall on deaf ears. Agri SA welcomes the national drought disaster declaration published by Dr Tau, head of the National Disaster Management Centre, on 20 July 2021.

Parts of the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape that have faced an average of 6 to 9 years of droughts have received some relief through various state interventions. Further assistance is urgently needed to stabilise local economies and preserve what is left of core breeding herds. Farmers and communities have also received continuous aid from the private sector, doners and ordinary people.

“It is a positive step by the government to recognise the plight of these areas suffering from the severe disaster drought conditions by issuing a disaster declaration,” says Willem Symington, Agri SA chairman of the natural resources centre of excellence.  “We hope that there will be sufficient action and assistance to help the agricultural sector and local economies in support to cope with the effects of the catastrophic drought.”

In terms of the powers conferred on Dr Tau, he calls on state organs to strengthen existing structures and activate contingency plans to address the disaster. He further requested the South African National Defense Force, South African Police Service and any other organ of state to support the National Disaster Management Centre to prepare and submit reports on the drought conditions.

“The bureaucratic red tape and insufficient budget for drought relief by the government have deprived farmers and farmworkers in the drought-stricken areas of their livelihoods, but despite this, we are positive that national resources will be made available to address the disaster,” says Andrea Campher, risk and disaster manager at Agri SA.

Agri SA, in collaboration with Agri Western Cape, Agri Eastern Cape and Agri Northern Cape, launched a drought project in July 2021 due to the critical drought conditions of the agricultural communities. It is touching stories of our farmers that give perspective on the disaster.

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Willem Symington

Agri SA’s Chairman of the Natural Resources Centre of Excellence

(C) 084 592 7474

 Andrea Campher

Agri SA, manager: Risk and Disaster Unit

(C) 079 8872174