News

Western Cape Cabinet To Request Disaster Classification

27 November 2015

The Western Cape Provincial cabinet will request its National counterparts to make a provincial disaster classification for the Western Cape.

Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, says the cabinet decision was taken on Wednesday.

“The decision follows input from the provincial disaster management authority with regards to the provincial water situation. Our assessments of the provincial water situation found more than one region or district municipality in the province is experiencing very dry and water-stressed conditions. This led to the request to the provincial cabinet for a disaster classification.

“Part of the request to the National counterparts will be for funding to be made available for disaster relief in the province. Additionally, the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre remains hard at work updating its preparedness plans in the event of an escalation with regards to water challenges.”

Minister Bredell says the National Disaster Management Centre is the only entity mandated to classify disasters.

“Once so classified by NDMC, the affected municipal councils and Provincial Cabinet will then declare a state of disaster in line with the classification.

According to Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, should the National Government approve the Provincial Cabinet’s request, farmers will be asked to lodge applications for assistance.

“Any assistance provided will be based on strict criteria.”

Minister Winde added that the situation highlighted the importance of smart farming practices and in putting contingency funds aside in the good years.

“In the Western Cape, some farmers have already introduced conservation agriculture. As a result of this intervention, they’ve seen increased production and profit, reduced soil erosion and improved water quality and soil health. This approach, which is being spearheaded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Council, involves minimum soil disturbance, maximum soil cover and crop rotation. An impact study we conducted in partnership with the ARC found the initiative resulted in a R341 million saving.

“Farmers in the dry areas who have not adopted conservation agriculture are reporting a possible 50% decline in yield. Our research farm in the same area, Langgewens, which has adopted conservation agriculture practices, is expecting a 25% decline in yield. The lower yield decline at the research farm shows the positive impact of conservation agriculture and how it is helping to mitigate some weather-related risks. I was encouraged to see that more farmers have recognised the value of conservation agriculture and have migrated to more responsible farming practices.”