The Sarah Baartman District Municipality (SBDM) took a resolution more than three months ago, on 29 March 2017, to have a drought disaster area declared, but this is yet to be gazetted.
The situation is becoming more and more critical and farmers are in dire need of assistance. The Land Bank has funding available for loan consolidation and production loans to purchase feed and re-stock at subsidised interest rates. However, the Land Bank can only assist with funding once the decision to declare SBDM as a drought disaster area has been gazetted.
On the 15 May the acting HOD of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Monwabisi Baza wrote to the Municipal Manager of SBDM, Ted Pillay, to inform him that the matter had been referred to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) on 26 April 2017.
The PDMC has sat on this for almost three months while farmers are struggling, animals are dying, crops are lost and food security hangs in the balance.
I have today written to the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Fikile Xasa, asking for a progress report and time frame for having SBDM declared and gazetted as a drought disaster area.
A comprehensive drought report by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform was circulated to the PDMC. This report states that SBDM is severely affected by drought and that potential risks include poor veld and livestock conditions, expansion of drought conditions to previously unaffected areas, direct and indirect impact on socio-economic conditions such as loss of income, job losses and food security, no water and food for animals. A total of 1 688 animals had already died by 1 March 2017 (reported figures only).
The report further states that “agricultural output is likely to drop”, “more people are likely to be food insecure”, “food prices are increasing and this is likely to threaten food security” and “communities first to be affected are those residing in rural areas, farm labourers who spend the higher proportions of their income on food”. The report recommended that SBDM be declared as a drought disaster area. For the report, click here
A caring government should prioritise the needs of its citizens. The DA believes that officialdom should move swiftly to deal with this matter.
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