The Department of Water and Sanitation has convened a two-day meeting to discuss how funding can be re-prioritised to assist areas still affected by drought in parts of the Eastern and Northern Cape.
Managers and executives from the department, water entities and the human settlements, water and sanitation department were part of the meeting that took place in Kempton Park on Wednesday and Thursday.
It follows Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s instruction to acting director-general Mbulelo Tshangana to find a budget that would alleviate distress in areas faced with acute challenges.
“During this drought intervention meeting, the department’s finances for this financial year were reviewed with the view to re-prioritise funds towards drought interventions in affected areas across the country,” department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a statement on Friday.
“The funding will be in line with the accelerated drought intervention strategy currently being developed by the department, together with relating implementation plans,” Ratau added.
Tshangana said the envisaged funds for drought relief would be presented to Sisulu.
“This exercise is to find money from departmental grants that will be utilised for drought intervention in the affected areas.
“Drought challenges in the country affect us as the department and water sector as a whole. It is therefore important that we take a collective streamlined approach of solving the problem of drought,” he added.
Meanwhile, the DA has welcomed Sisulu’s decision to declare the Northern Cape a disaster area.
The party is of the view that this is due to “sustained pressure from the DA over the past months, including a visit to the province yesterday by DA leader John Steenhuisen”.
“Moreover, the decision to direct R200m in funding to address the crisis, while long overdue, is welcomed.
“While this is a step in the right direction, more is required in order to bring widespread relief to the already devastated provincial agricultural sector,” DA Northern Cape National Council of Provinces member Willie Aucamp said in a statement on Friday.
Aucamp added the drought-stricken province needed more than R600m to alleviate the negative effects of the five-year drought, with over 60,000 jobs on the line.
As a result, the party reiterated its call to Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul to invoke Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act to make emergency funds available for immediate drought relief to farmers.
“The DA-run Western Cape government has already done so, and in turn is assisting hundreds of farmers and farming communities in this time of distress.
“We urge premier Saul to not let another day go by without taking decisive action by freeing up the funds required to mitigate the drought crisis in the Northern Cape,” Aucamp said.