The Western Cape government says it is closely monitoring the impact of the unusually dry seasonal weather being experienced in some regions of the province.
Anton Bredell‚ Minister of Local Government‚ Environmental Affairs and Development Planning‚ said of particular concern at the moment was looming water shortages in the Cederberg and Matzikama Local Municipalities as a result of the low level of the Clanwilliam Dam.
Bredell said that while the Clanwilliam Dam level was currently 88% full‚ this was regarded as critically low for this period of the year.
“Awareness programmes and water restrictions in the three areas are being undertaken by the various municipalities already.”
Alan Winde‚ Minister of Economic Opportunities‚ said he was concerned about the impact of water shortages on agriculture – a leading export sector – and the economy.
“No area has been declared a disaster area yet‚ and we are highly concerned‚ and are monitoring the situation closely.
“Dam levels across the province are down compared to last year. This has consequences for certain regions. The Karoo is very dry and the West Coast is also being impacted by lower rainfall. There is‚ however‚ still a chance of rain‚ which could change the situation. We will be routinely assessing the situation over the next few weeks.”
Minister Winde said funding relief for any national disasters sat with the national government and was released to provincial governments only after the declaration of a disaster.
In the event of a disaster being declared‚ a request for funding would have to be submitted to the National Treasury via the National Disaster Management Centre.
According to legislation‚ farmers cannot be compensated for loss of income due to a national disaster. Assistance can only be used against damaged infrastructure.
“The National Department of Labour may also be approached to assist with providing financial assistance to farmers to retain employed farm workers. In certain instances‚ the department could also support farmers by facilitating talks with commercial banks or the Land Bank on rescheduling payments of current production‚” Winde said.
Bredell noted that the Western Cape was a dry province and prone to water challenges.
“If the province doesn’t get the rainfall it requires it is always a major concern and raises the risk profile for the agriculture sector in particular.”
Bredell called on consumers of water to use the resource sparingly.
“The message is always – don’t waste water. Even when there is no defined shortage in a particular area‚ use water wisely.”