Friday, November 13, 2015

South African government warns of worsening drought

The South African government on Friday warned of a worsening drought whose severity is impacting negatively on the country in both social and economic terms.

Because of the drought, the country's current state of water storage is estimated at 64.3 percent of its normal full supply compared with 74.6 percent storage level at the same time last year, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan said at a briefing in Pretoria.

So generally there is a downward trend, which is indicative of a hydrological and meteorological drought, he said.

  • The current abnormal heatwave has increased evaporation rates significantly and this is one of the reasons for the fall off in the storage capacity levels.

This excessive heat wave, which is the result of El Niño, has grossly exacerbated the dry and arid conditions that the country is currently experiencing and is putting a strain on the already stretched water resources across all provinces.

Four provinces have been declared disaster areas and several metropolitan municipalities have already announced water restrictions in order to curb the increased demand and over-usage of water by households and industries in recent months, in their efforts to deal with the impact of the heat wave.

The remaining provinces that have not yet declared drought disaster have been struggling in the last 24 months to deal with the negative effects of drought, said Gordhan, who is leading the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) responsible for the drought.

  • The El Niño phenomenon is expected to continue at least until March 2016, which means that the current hot and dry conditions are likely to persist for the next six months. The current El Niño is perhaps the worst in history.

The government's key focus is on continuing to work with provinces and all stakeholders to mitigate the impact of drought on households in both urban and rural communities, Gordhan said.



  1. Five of South Africa's nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas for agriculture following one of the driest rainy seasons in decades, the government said Friday, warning of a potential "regional disaster."...

    Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the drought had affected all provinces in South Africa and that exports would be restricted as a result, hitting neighboring countries.

    "We have seen cattle dying, we have seen plants withering, we don't want to see people dying," Zokwana told reporters in Pretoria.

    "Our production has contracted by 17 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis mostly due to drought conditions in 2015."

    Although the country has enough stocks of the staple maize grain to last until next year, it failed to produce enough to export to Botswana, Swaziland and other neighbors.

    "The average maize yield (is) the lowest since 2008," said Zokwana, adding that prices would inevitably rise................

  2. Severe Drought Continues to Plague South Africa...

    South Africa remains in the grip of a severe drought after one of the driest rainy seasons on record. The disaster has placed a strain on the country's water supply, affecting an estimated 2.7 million families.

    The worst-hit are those residing in rural areas, where people have to collect water once a day. As the drought persists, the government has declared five provinces a drought disaster for agriculture.

    Agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana said the average maize production has been the lowest since 2008. So far, South Africa has yet to produce enough supply of maize to export to Swaziland and Botswana. This means prices will be forced to rise domestically, although Zokwana warned that if the drought persists further, it may become a regional disaster.

    The hardest-hit provinces include Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga. Majority of the rain falls in these provinces between October and March, but with the El Nino phenomenon expected to dominate the weather in the coming months, the possibility of decent rainfall looks grim.


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