Government remains resolute in assisting drought impacted areas of the country, including Butterworth in the Eastern Cape
The National Government of the country, through the Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and related Departments as led by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, remains resolute in working together with affected provinces, municipalities, other national departments, as well as the private sector to alleviate the impact of the on-going drought in pockets of the country.
The Eastern Cape is one such province that is greatly affected particularly in areas such as Butterworth and surrounds in the Amathole District Municipality (ADM). In response to this natural phenomenon which will take some time to turn around, a number of initiatives have been set in place.
The Department of Water and Sanitation, EC Provincial Office led by Ms Portia Makhanya who is the Provincial Head, is working closely with the EC Provincial Government and the ADM in this regard.
It is important to note that the current situation follows on the national and regional drought that began in 2014, and which saw a great deal of RSA impacted upon negatively. Even though since late 2017 into 2018 there has been some recovery in large parts of the country, this natural act/phenomenon will take even longer to turn around due to the fact that in the 2018 and 2019 summer rainfall periods, the country experienced late rains and high temperatures leading to high evaporation rates and very little recharge of the country’s water sources. These are but some of the impacts of Climate Change which are a reality.
In the area of ADM which includes Butterworth, the reality of the river being dry at the Kei Bridge is what is being faced. The DWS has released water from the Wriggles Dam in the last week and this water is expected to take about two weeks to reach Kei Bridge for water tankers to receive water from the Water Treatment Plant at Kei Bridge.
The boreholes that were drilled in the area did not yield much due to the drought which is intensifying. In the absence of rains and therefore run off and recharge of water sources, even the groundwater runs out.
With regards to the situation around Queenstown, the dam level continues to drop, also due to lack of rain. The Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) has imposed water rationing to assist with water availability over a longer period.
Whereas the responsibility for reticulation by law rests with local government, the DWS has also continued to support the affected municipalities by way of availing water tankers at a cost to the department. The challenge of the drought can only be permanently resolved by the arrival of the much anticipated rains. In the meantime, as the EC Provincial Government did declare a provincial drought, the process to finalise the relevant type and size of assistance rests with the National Disaster Management Centre, made up of a number of Ministries and Departments including COGTA, Agriculture and Land Reform, DWS, Environmental Affairs and National Treasury.
With all of this and all other efforts on-going, Minister Sisulu would like to urge all South Africans to be responsible in how matters of the drought are carried on all platforms. This is not a small or trivial matter, and government at the level of Cabinet continues to be seized with the need to alleviate the plight that emanates from this unfortunate act of nature.
Source: Government of South Africa