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R122 Million to Tackle Green Drought as KZN Dam Levels Remain Low

The Witness 6 Feb 2019  NOKUTHULA NTULI

R122 million has been allocated from the National Disaster Management Centre to help KwaZulu-Natal’s green drought hotspots.

This despite R220 million previously allocated by national government to KZN for drought relief going missing, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube told a briefing yesterday.

While there have been heavy storms in most parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the drought that gripped the province since 2015 has not completely ended.

Warning of imminent crop failures, Dube-Ncube said yesterday the recent rains created a false impression that the drought was over, but dams had not been replenished to their pre-drought levels.

“The total for all KZN dams stands at 55%. Experts have said it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of the green drought or if it was linked to another upcoming El Niño or to climate change.”

She said government was already implementing various intervention measures across the province.

“Danger of running out of water is still very real. We need to act now.”

She said the irony was that uThukela District Municipality, in Ladysmith, where a freak storm that destroyed 70 houses and left 400 people destitute over the weekend, remained the epicentre of KZN’s drought.

Other districts affected include King Cetshwayo and Zululand districts in the north and uMuziwabantu and Nongoma local municipalities in the south.

Concerns were now also being raised in the Umgeni and Hazelmere systems which supply water to eThekwini and iLembe municipalities.

Dube-Ncube said farm dam levels continued to drop. “Many subsistence farmers are behind the planting season.

“It is also concerning that as little as 60% of available land was planted this season and those crops are being threatened by relentless heat.

“If we do not get the necessary rainfall in some of the most affected areas, some of the crops that have been planted will die. We appeal to everyone to continue to use water sparingly. Mandatory restrictions remain an option in some areas,” said Dube-Ncube.