Five municipalities in South Africa’s Western Cape Province have been declared local disaster areas as the country continues to grapple with one of the worst droughts it has experienced in decades.

The province itself is not at disaster status yet, but the authorities say they are in consultation with the national government and are monitoring the situation.

Dam levels in Western Cape Province have dropped from 64 per cent at this time last year to 55 per cent at present and is a major cause for concern as the on-going drought continues to take its toll on the province.

At the start of this month nationally, the picture seemed even bleaker with the country’s national storage at 211 dams reported at 49 per cent and dropping. In Western Cape Province, the West Coast district municipality, Central Karoo district and Oudshoorn district are among the municipalities declared local disaster areas.

The Member of the executive Council (MEC) in the Western Cape government for Local Government, Anton Bredell, said Tuesday that water restrictions had been put in place and awareness programmes were in place to aid in saving water.

“All the farms in municipalities in the Overberg district have reported that there is no immediate crisis in their areas. However, certain towns like Grabouw and Villiersdorp in the Waterskloof area will be subjected to the same water restrictions as the City of Cape Town,” he added.

“The Cape Winelands Municipality which adheres to the same water restrictions as the City of Cape Town has been classified a medium risk municipality.”

Level three water restrictions, in place in Cape Town, prohibit the use of hose pipes to wash cars or water gardens.

The province says it has made a number of interventions to mitigate the effects of the drought.

Bredell said: “Fifty-nine million Rand (about 4.2 million US dollars) in fodder relief has been provided for the agricultural sector while re-prioritising of the municipal infrastructure support grant funding has seen some 6.2 million Rand transferred to three local municipalities for the drilling and equipping of boreholes.”

The authorities say the situation in the province is not yet critical, but have urged residents to intensify water-saving efforts.


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