In a joint committee meeting, four departments presented their collaborative strategy in dealing with the ongoing drought and climate change. The National Disaster Management Centre of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) spoke about the joint drought committee of all relevant departments that has been set up and is monitoring the implementation of drought response and measures throughout the country - this happens every Monday morning. The current arrangement regarding disaster funding is that for affected sectors and municipalities, where sources of internal funding are no longer available, then National Treasury can be approached to make disaster grant funding available. Through the use of maps showing different time periods, the creeping progression of the drought was illustrated. The poor operational maintenance by municipalities of water facilities and vandalism - which is unrelated to the drought - is seriously hampering the drought response. Groundwater is more resilient to drought and a programme of increasing groundwater use via boreholes is being implemented. The South African Weather Service (SAWS) presented the second half of the COGTA presentation, looking at the course of the drought over the next couple of months, projections over the long-term on temperatures, and tools for monitoring.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) spoke about water tankering to critically affected communities and the assistance of NGOs such as Operation Hydrate in dealing with the drought situation. Although 458 tankers have already been procured, because of the increasing severity of the drought it is estimated that a further 742 tankers will be required.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) reported on the impact on livestock provincially. The number of farmers assisted is 42 314 and reported livestock losses are 186 340 in total. In terms of boreholes, 56 are completed, 89 drilled while 29 were drilled but dry. The maize crop for 2015 is 30% less than 2014. The 2016 crop is projected to be 25% less than 2015. This will be the lowest yield in South Africa since 2007. The response in each province was outlined such as the provision of feed and water for livestock , land identified for relocation of livestock and commonages for provision of livestock water tinkering, creation of firebreaks, provision of firefighting equipment and drilling of and equipment for boreholes.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said it is anticipated that there is going to be demand growth on the water sector with an increased necessity for focus on infrastructure development, improved focus of demand management, with early climate change planning to be expanded to more water management areas. For agriculture there are risks due to increasing temperatures, increasing water demand, pests and diseases, and crop suitability. Maize production is at risk in the Western reaches of the rainfall area, wheat production at risk in the winter rainfall region, key export fruit crops at risk but commercial producers show high adaptability. For human health, there are risks due to the existing disease burden and poverty, especially in rural and urban poor mainly relating to vector borne disease. In marine fisheries, there are risks to coastal livelihoods. Adaptation strategies relate to sustainable management of stocks and improved predictive understanding. While uncertainty over the impact of climate change on precipitation in particular persists, the climate scenarios DEA develops nonetheless provide a useful heuristic device to explore possible future climates and their impact on South Africa. The adaptation implementation plans have been completed and are under implementation by the relevant departments.
Members raised many questions related to the drought and climate change.
The Chairperson said the important aspect of how to move forward with drought and climate change is the plans going forward and the collaborative approach adopted by the departments.
Department of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) update
Mr Ken Terry, Head: National Disaster Management Centre, COGTA said the drought is being managed in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The drought is being dealt with however there are areas that have been hit by serious hail storms and floods and disasters have been declared. The current arrangement on disaster funding is funding for the affected sectors and municipalities, where sources of internal funding are no longer available, then National Treasury can be approached through the disaster grants to make sure that funding available to assist in any way necessary. This however is in terms of the Division of Revenue and there are very specific criteria and means of dealing with that funding and verification to ensure it is in fact needed.
Currently there is a joint drought committee of all relevant departments that has been set up and is monitoring the implementation of drought response and measures throughout the country - this happens every Monday morning. They ensure that they do not duplicate disaster funding resources and the work is done in a coordinated fashion. Drought started in 2013 in North West where an amount of R 43 million was made available to assist with the fodder and in 2013 there was drought declared on the border of North West and R50 million was made available. KwaZulu Natal saw the onset of the current drought in 2014, and the Department made an amount of R24 million available. All sectors departments, provinces and state institutions have had to reprioritise their funding to deal with the current drought and about R1 billion has been made available through reprioritisation. The current classification of the drought is as follows: Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, North West and a local state of disaster was reported in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. In the Northern Cape assessments are being done so as to finalize the provincial drought that has been declared. In the Joe Gqabi District there have also been assessments and classification will also be done by next week.
He presented maps over time to show how the drought is creeping throughout the country with it starting in the North West, Free State, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal. Only some parts of Gauteng, Western Cape and only the northern part of the Eastern Cape are affected and they have told these provinces that they should not declare provincial disaster for areas that are not covered by the drought. He said that by May the SA Weather Service should be able to alert if flooding is expected to follow this dry El Nino phenomenon. This is the worst drought experienced by North West and Free State although not by KZN.
The poor operational maintenance by municipalities - which is unrelated to the drought - is seriously hampering the drought response. He also spoke about areas of improvement in the drought conditions, interventions, modus operandi and boreholes (see document for more detail).
Dr Joel Botai of the South African Weather Service (SAWS) presented the second half of the COGTA presentation, looking at the course of the drought over the next couple of months, projections over the long-term on temperatures, and tools for monitoring.
Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) strategies and interventions for drought interventions
Water tankering to critically affected communities is procured by DWS, municipalities and NGOs such as Operation Hydrate as an emergency measure to deal with the drought situation. This is done based on needs and business plans drawn up to resource the intervention. Although 458 tankers have already been procured, because of the increasing severity of the drought it is estimated that a further 742 tankers will be required. Groundwater resource is more resilient to drought. A programme of increasing groundwater use is being implemented, entailing refurbishment of existing boreholes and drilling and equipment.
The progress in the disbursement of drought relief funding to provinces was outlined. Funds are prioritised according to need, level of stress, expected effectiveness, viability and speed of interventions, and numbers of households affected. Funding for drought relief interventions saw an initial amount of R352.4 million given to the drought relief programme. A further R185 million was allocated from the Water Trading Entity (WTE) during 2015/16 resulting in a total allocation of R340 million from WTE. National Treasury has disallowed a rollover of R46 million and the Water Services Operating Subsidy (WSOS) of R50.5 million. Reprioritisation of R61.5 million had to be done from other programmes.
Interventions by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
The drought has affected mostly arable land in South Africa. The area planted for maize has been reduced by 25.90%. South Africa will produce 7 256 million tons and expected imports of 3 900 million tons. Therefore South Africa will have sufficient stock levels of maize until end of April 2017. If drought continues South Africa can expect contraction in the agricultural economy in grain related industries. Imports of maize will increase. Moderate increases in food inflation can be expected. As imports grow, there will be pressure to address import requirements in terms of domestic legislation and infrastructure. Intensive measures for both relief and recovery will be required.
Dr Mmaphaka Tau, DAFF Deputy Director General: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, said reported impact on livestock provincially include 246 631 number of farmers affected, from small, medium and large farmers. The number of farmers assisted is 42 314 and reported livestock losses are 186 340 in total. In terms of boreholes, 56 are completed, 89 drilled while 29 were drilled but were dry. The total maize estimated crop for 2015 is 9,955 mil tons which is 30% less than the 2014 maize crop of 14,250 mill tons. According to the preliminary crop estimate projected for 2016, it is 25% less than the 2015 crop. This is the lowest yield in South Africa since 2007.
Demand and supply for the 2015/16 maize marketing season is:
- Imports projected at 1.28 million tons (80 000 tons white maize and 1.20 m tons yellow maize).
- Exports projected at 820 000 tons (500 000 tons white maize and 320 000 tons yellow maize).
- Closing stocks at end April 2016 is 1.673 m tons (1.072m tons white maize / 601 000 tons yellow maize).
Demand and supply for 2016/17 was also discussed.
Mitigation measures include boreholes drilled and repaired using the Prevention and Mitigation of Disaster Grant (PMDR). Other programmes include Land Care, revitalisation of irrigation schemes, and the Nguni cattle project.
Provincial progress on drought intervention measures were discussed such as the provision of feed and water for livestock , land identified for relocation of livestock and commonages for provision of livestock water tinkering, creation of firebreaks, provision of firefighting equipment and drilling of and equipment for boreholes. For example, 92 kms of firebreaks have been created in the Free State. The effect of agricultural drought on community stability is minimal so far. The role of private sector was acknowledged and remains critical in ensuring effective relief and long term recovery. There is a need to heighten collaborative efforts to mitigate against job losses and other negative social effects in the sector. As a collective responsibility, farmers and communities must continually pay attention to advisories and observe early warning messages in order to remain resilient to drought and other hazards affecting the sector.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) update
Ms Judy Beaumont, DEA Deputy Director General: Climate Change and Air Quality, said it is anticipated that there is going to be demand growth on the water sector with an increased necessity for focus on infrastructure development, improved focus of demand management, with early climate change planning to be expanded to more water management areas. For agriculture there are risks due to increasing temperatures, increasing water demand, pests and diseases, and crop suitability. Maize production is at risk in Western reaches of rainfall area, wheat production at risk in the winter rainfall region, key export fruit crops at risk but commercial producers show high adaptability. For human health, there are risks due to the existing disease burden and poverty, especially in rural and urban poor mainly relating to vector borne disease. In marine fisheries, there are risks to coastal livelihoods. Adaptation strategies relate to sustainable management of stocks and improved predictive understanding.
South Africa could move between a dry and wetter future from year to year. While uncertainty over the impact of climate change on precipitation in particular persists, the climate scenarios DEA develops nonetheless provide a useful heuristic device to explore possible future climates and their impact on South Africa. The adaptation implementation plans have been completed and are under implementation by:
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
- Department of Water and Sanitation
- Department of Rural Development Land Reform
- Department of Health to guide adaptation on health impacts
- Department of Environmental Affairs (adaptation to climate impacts on ecosystems)
- A number of provinces
The Department of Environmental Affairs is coordinating:
- Working for Water (managing invasive alien plants for water security)
- Working on Fire (to manage the increase of veld and forest fires)
- Working for Wetlands (conserving the ecological services of wetlands)
- Working for Ecosystems (conserving the ecological services of catchments).
Climate change impacts and adaptation responses in SADC countries may directly (both positively and negatively) influence/affect South Africa and vice versa, with potential socio-economic and environmental implications. The range of impacts includes floods, drought, environmental impacts including fire or disease, migration and settlement, trade of food, water and energy. Migration due to economic, social and environmental reasons often forces people into settlement in areas which are vulnerable to climate impacts such as flooding or drought. Impacts of climate change may also be experienced through increased or decreased trade within South Africa and SADC, and food security within countries and import and exports of produce may shift. Trade of food and energy are of particular importance in SADC as they are currently traded extensively amongst these countries.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) said the presentation from COGTA clearly indicates that there is something wrong with provinces declaring the entire province as a disaster. What is the Department’s view on this?
Mr L Basson (DA) said it was mentioned that about 75% of problems in municipalities are infrastructure related. How does COGTA and the DWS link up to deal with this issue. He said the harvesting of water is something that needs to be discussed, and the allegations of white farmers stealing water need to be investigated. Why are there no investigations and farmers being charged?
Ms T Baker (DA) said there is lack of early warning systems. What is going to be done about this, how is this going to properly implemented to mitigate the future of the drought? Who is responsible for water licensing, she asked if it should be farmers that are blamed or the persons responsible for licensing?
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked how many towns are without water. She has been asking for this information and has not had answers. She asked where the boreholes are going to be drilled, how many are these per Department? She asked who ensures if a disaster is declared and checks if boreholes have been drilled. She asked if DAFF is going to stick to its crop estimates. She asked the Weather Service what are the plans going forward.
Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked how many people have lost their jobs and what happens to them. Are they assisted by government by any means? Are there any chances of redeployment in case of the drought cessation? She asked if there is a longer term strategy the Department is working on.
Mr C Maxhegwana (ANC) said drought affects the poor more as food prices go up during this time, hence the move to the possibility of a National Disaster. He asked how provinces are declared as a disaster area. What was taken into consideration to come to the number of dams indicated?
Mr K Mileham said the number on slide 39 is very scary. Boreholes budget numbers seem excessive.
He asked why some of the provinces who clearly indicate disaster have not been declared a disaster. He said much has been said about rainwater harvesting but not much has been said about household water harvesting, thus what steps has the DWS and COGTA taken to promote rainwater harvesting at a household level. He asked what steps has the Department of Human Settlement (DHS) taken to promote rainwater harvesting in RDP houses, has the Department installed rainwater tanks for these houses? He asked if fracking has been factored into the drought discussions and considerations of the water resources available. He said there has not been any mention on proactive steps to address the contamination of water sources.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) asked if municipalities are fully capacitated through MISA for example to ensure infrastructure is on point. He asked if there a transition plan so when new councillors are coming in there will be a rapid response to ensure that drought is prioritised.
Ms L Mnganga- Gcabashe (ANC) said there is very little talk about how drought is going to affect human settlements. She asked on the capacity of reservoirs, what is the plan going forward. For Environmental Affairs, what is the plan going forward. Is there a plan for Human Settlement to build storage for mielies? What is the Department doing to make sure that government and the private sector get into partnership? She asked what COGTA means when it said the entire province is declared a disaster. In terms of communication strategies, pamphlets need to be in all languages.
Mr S Makhubele (ANC) asked why there is dedicated funding only in KwaZulu Natal.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked if the Department has ever looked into introducing a new system of boreholes, like the ones used inland. What is happening in terms of policing such as people with car washes. Who is responsible for monitoring this kind of business?
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said the information on boreholes is confusing especially on the figures given by the two departments. He asked where were the boreholes put and why the large amount of money comes from one department.
Ms Baker asked who is responsible for borehole maintenance. In terms of business plans, what is the turnaround time for all these and who monitors this process. On water tankering, she asked where is the money coming from and how is this whole process managed.
The Chairperson said what mitigation factors can be talked about, especially when it comes to food for the poor. He said there is a need to standardize costing; there should not be cases like these where one department pays a particular price for a borehole and another department pays a different price. He said COGTA has to adhere to the 10% maintenance line item of its budget for municipalities. The issue of the water plan is coming to haunt the Committee again, where is the water resource mapping? Since there has been a rain map, then the Department should be able to present a water map so as to get an understanding of what the country has in terms of resources.
Mr Trevor Balzer, DWS Chief Operations Officer, said the first declaration the Department got was from KwaZulu Natal and this was followed by North West and the Limpopo province which both declared a full provincial disaster. This process is done at a provincial level and it is sent to National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) for a classification to be done. There were some interventions in these areas right at the onset. The classification for the Eastern Cape will be finalized in a few days because the teams only concluded their work last week. He said in terms of the declaration as of today, with the exception of KwaZulu Natal, the Northern Cape has been declared however the Department is still busy with the classification programme. He said the Department has to follow the Act these are the only ones that have been declared because in terms of the Act, declaration is only for three months. Thus other declarations were dealt with based on emergency needs to assist people that were affected by the drought. He said this is one of the first shortcomings he mentioned and this is the first drought that has occurred after the implementation of the Act and there have to be amendments done for dealing with drought per se. For all other issues being dealt with, there was a declaration for hailstorms in Ekurhuleni about two months ago, where a declaration was done and within a period of four weeks, the Department was able to release relief funding.
Some areas are generally dry areas, for example the Karoo area, but these are covered in the declaration and this makes it very difficult to manage the funding. Even after declaration has taken place, the funding streams and the Act is quite clear on the framework that any funding that is required to deal with an emergency starts in the area where the emergency is most affected. Thus the municipality would have to go and have a look at it for immediate interventions on what needs to be done for them to prioritise its funding to do this. This then escalates to the provinces and to the NDMC. The other issue around the funding of disasters is that, in dealing with immediate relief, there are sections 16 and 32 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which allows an accounting officer to reprioritise his funds in any form of emergency, it does not have to be a disaster. On the issue of the 75% of problems in municipalities being infrastructure related, there are interventions to deal with this and this is being done by the Department's Back to Basic’s team, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) in conjunction with the necessary Department to deal with infrastructure. However this is ongoing, it does not only relate to the drought, for the Back to Basics COGTA team. The early warning systems do exist and this information is disseminated. The NDMC has created a secondary process of monitoring and evaluation where it goes and has a look at what is happening. On the SADC participation, the Department does participate in SADC.
The amount of R85 000 mentioned for the drilling of a borehole, this is the costing of Operation Hydrate, and it is not government that is drilling the boreholes. The declaration and the assessment in the Eastern Cape is being done and the classification will be finalized. The change in the municipal councils and how they will be affected, there will be a programme set up for training of councillors and this is done in conjunction with SALGA. On the communication strategy that is led by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), they would have to give the department information and report on this issue. He said it takes between three and five days for the document to be submitted to National Treasury to effect the payment to the accounts and the Department has a direct link with them. In terms of the donations and equitable costs, these are dealt with by Social Development however the Department has set up a process and reporting templates. There is a committee that sits at the NDMC with COGTA and DWS and guides where the dire need is based on the information received. The one thing about this current drought is the excessive heat wave and this is not something that has been prepared for. Even in the predictions of the Weather Service, the heat waves were not forecast well in advance. On synergised reporting, there was a discussion about the issue this morning and after the meeting last Thursday. This is one of the issues that they have been speaking about and a process of synergised reports is being looked into to have a single report that will be presented in future.
Ms Margaret-Ann Diedricks, Director General, Department of Water and Sanitation, referred to the boreholes, with drilling costs between R70 000 and R80 000 and there are ancillary costs like pumps/pump stations, generators to pump water, that increases this amount. She said the Department can provide the Committee with a breakdown of these costs. In terms of the water resource list that has been requested she said the Department will make a list available and said she will engage with other Directors General in the respective departments, that is DAFF as well as the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). Therefore there will be a combined list of where the boreholes are as well as the costing. The issues around only having dedicated funding in KwaZulu Natal have been dealt with for the last three years because there was fair warning. Moreover, KZN was the first one that was taken to the cabinet and there was reprioritisation in terms of other provinces. Municipalities are responsible if there is no water in communities. The DWS deals with the operation rules pertaining to the water sources and these would be dams. She said Section 21 of the Act is very clear, ‘there must be an application for water licensing’. The reason this is necessary is because the off run from rain must go somewhere. If a farmer wants to build a dam there must be as application for the process and considerations have to be taken and the Department will give permission however up to a certain limit of the amount of water it can store. She said the Act is very clear in that the custodian of all water is the Minister of Water. However in some instances, the Department is willing to accept storing of water unless there is going to be an impact on other legitimate use of this water.
Mr Trevor Balzer, Deputy Director General Emergency Projects, Department of Water and Sanitation, said the DG indicated that currently 9% of the country’s water mix come from boreholes and in the long term this would be increased to 18% so it has to be a conjunctive of surface water, groundwater and surface flows. Only 8% of the water from rain lands as runoff which can be exploited therefore the other goes into evaporation, evapotranspiration, infiltration into the ground etc. therefore it is a small percentage that can be picked up. Currently about 13 billion cubic meters per annum is used which is for rain water, return flows and groundwater. On the issue of using a single system, currently there are in the order of 500 dams in the country, the dams that the Department manages are measured regularly which number 323. These dams store 87% of the country’s current stored capacity. Therefore what the Department wants to do in terms of the management system is to bring in the other dams so as to monitor the other 1 billion cubic meters stored there, when it comes to dealing with drought situations. However the costs obviously increase quite substantially in terms of monitoring these dams as well. On rainwater harvesting, this is an issue the Minister has been pushing so that going forward, all housing development needs to be integrated with rain water harvesting systems. On water for construction, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other research institutions will assist the department in helping to ensure that water use is reduced.
Ms Diedricks said that the DWS is busy with a water plan. The Department has started with the 27 priority districts and this is very complex work however the Department is working towards it. On the question of if the rain comes, is the Department ready to have its sources clean, the Department is already working on a refurbishment plan with municipalities on their water treatment works.
Mr Balzer agreed that car washes do use significant amounts of water and they seem to be affected when municipalities put restrictions in place. Mangaung Municipality for instance was looking at ways when it applies water restrictions, it does not put people out of business because it is a livelihood. He is also aware that the Water Research Commission and the CSIR are also looking at ways for lower water usage.
Dr Tau said DAFF has an arrangement where it brings in various units within the Department and outside to coordinate drought response and relief efforts. There is a structure that is called the National Drought Task Team and the Sector Joint Operation Committee that meet every Tuesday and Friday. These structures are guided by a framework developed by the Drought Relief Scheme Framework. It outlines what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, the coordination thereof and the reporting. The Drought Response Framework (DRF) does prescribe how it is to be monitored, and this work is done in collaboration with provinces to ensure that work is being monitored. On crop estimates, there is the supply and demand committee to advice on crop bills. On farm workers the DRDLR states that in assisting farmers, it is also a priority to ensure that the jobs of farm workers are secured. However there is legislation that applies to farm workers under the Department of Labour. The Department has developed a plan for Climate Change Development for the Agriculture sector.
Ms Beaumont replied about a long term adaptation strategy, saying, yes, there is one and this strategy will pull together all the sector adaptation plans which are already underway and deal with the refinement of these plans. It will also pull together the work that is being done by provinces in assessing their vulnerability, their need for adaptation as well as where these are being done, particularly at metros. She said a process is underway in collaboration with the key sectors, departments and other stakeholders as it not only applies to government but to other stakeholders as well. A draft for this strategy should be ready by the end of the current year. The time frame for the strategy plan is for 2020, 2030, 2050 and beyond 2050 it is difficult to plan. Therefore the Department has a medium to long term plan.
On funding for the adaptation programme, she said there is an international fund called the Green Climate Fund which is now in operation and also the Adaptation Fund. Both of these funds provide an opportunity for South Africa to secure funding for adaptation programmes. There is a number of such programmes being funded and there is also a task team that is currently working at pulling together an adaptation and mitigation programme to cut across the different sectors to be able to submit this to the Green Climate Fund to make sure there is a single coordinated and coherent proposal for large scale adaptation and mitigation funding implementation.
On the question of fracking, Ms Beaumont replied that the Department was directed to do a strategic environmental assessment of the fracking proposals, this did not only deal with water but with a range of different environmental issues including air pollution, the greenhouse gap implication of the carbon footprint, capacity and biodiversity issues.
On alien invasive plants, there are two or three very critical programmes that relate to the drought work. There is the programme on water that deals with the removal alien invasive plants particularly in water catchment areas. There is a fire program that deals with wildfires. Each of these programs is focused on job creations at the same time as dealing with environmental restoration. These programmes have quite significant budgets.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Water & Sanitation Presentation Progress regarding Implementation of Drought Intervention Measures
- Department of Environmental Affairs Presentation
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Presentation Update on Drought Relief: A National Overview on Agricultural Sector
- Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs Update on Drought Conditions & Response Measures in the Country