Drought reports from agricultural sectors were received from the five provinces which are currently the worst affected. These are the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. The Provincial Departments of Agriculture submitted their declaration requests to the Provincial Disaster Management Centers in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002). As one of the sector departments responsible for agricultural disaster risks, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is required to comply with the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002).
STATUS IN PROVINCES
To date, declaration confirmations have been received from the North West and Free State Provinces as per the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) while in other provinces the process is still ongoing. The DAFF has yet to receive written confirmation of disaster declaration from KZN. In the meantime, the Provincial Departments of Agriculture provided drought relief assistance to the aggregate amount of R14,7 million to small-scale and subsistence farmers. This allocation is being used to cater for many affected farmers’ emergency needs such as, but not limited to, providing animal feed, providing water sources and intensifying awareness campaigns. Declared drought disaster stricken provinces will then submit their disaster funding requests to the National Treasury through the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC).
ASSISTANCE FOR AFFECTED PROVINCES
To date, the DAFF approached the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Land Bank for possible assistance and the institutions indicated that they have plans in place that can be used to assist affected farmers. The plans include providing soft loans, among other things. However, records of disaster declarations in terms of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) are the main requirements to unlock such assistance.
To ensure drought impact mitigation, the department continues to monitor conditions in the provinces and will issue updated early warning information/advisories to the sector, which includes strategies farmers should consider in planning their activities when dry conditions are forecasted. Strategies advised are using grey water – especially in food gardens, harvesting water during rainy days, irrigating in the late afternoon/early evening to reduce evaporation, using drip irrigation instead of sprinklers as it saves water and reducing livestock to protect limited grazing land and providing additional feeds.
The DAFF continues to coordinate and facilitate the process between the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the Provincial Departments regarding both declarations and funding requests. The NDMC within the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) is coordinating these national response efforts, particularly funding requests to National Treasury. All sectors are affected by the dry conditions and as such concerted and integrated efforts are required to ensure that the effect of the drought is mitigated.