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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
5 February 2004
DROUGHT RELIEF MEASURES: BRIEFING
Documents handed out
Presentation on Drought Relief Measures
Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management Inputs to Disaster Task Team
Framework to Access Drought Relief Funds (see Appendix)
The Committee was briefed on drought relief measures including research into drought resistant crop suitability and grazing capacity, LRAD-farmer support packages, advisories made by NAC, creation of the Fire Act, proposal of the Agricultural Risks Insurance Bill, co-ordination of PDAs and Municipalities, and the introduction of new agricultural technologies. The Department proposed that more funding be provided for drought relief in addition to current provincial relief funds. The Committee questioned whether past funds reached their designated communities in a fair and timely manner. The Department provided a framework that outlined how money should be distributed to ensure appropriate use of funds.
Briefing by Department on Drought Relief Measures
Mr P Ngobese, Department Assistant Director-General: Farmer Settlement, conducted the presentation which outlined the South African agricultural climate forecast as well as the 7-10 year cycle, the factors affecting the South African summer rainfall figures and the allocations of the Department's drought relief funds per province.
Mr I Kgakatsi, Department Senior Manager: Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management, gave some background on the predicted drought, a list of the districts most affected, the fodder allocation to established and emerging farmers, as well as the funds needed between March and September 2004 to provide relief. He then presented the framework for accessing relief funds during the period ending 31 March 2004, aimed at ensuring fair and transparent distribution of assistance to affected farmers.
Mr V Windvoel (ANC) [Mpumalanga] said the presentation indicated that R10m would be allocated to Mpumalanga, whereas the Minister of Health had stated that R15.5m would also be allocated to that province. He asked whether the R10m referred to in the presentation was an additional amount, or whether the initial figure of R15.5m was now reduced to R10m.
Mr Ngobese responded that the interdepartmental task team included representatives from the Departments of Social Development and Health. The issues relating to the funding received from the Department of Health and the Department's co-ordination with the Department of Social Development were debated by the task team and the inter-ministerial committee. Over the last few months, several Cabinet Ministers had gone into the field to perform the assessments with a team of officials. There was thus an institutional way to respond to the questions posed by Members.
Mr Kgakatsi was not sure how the Minister of Health would distribute that money, and stated that the amount referred to by the Minister of Health was separate from the R10m indicated by the Department in the presentation.
Ms P Majodina (ANC) [Eastern Cape] said the presentation failed to mention any relief provided by the Department to those farmers who relied on their ploughing fields. She asked whether the Department had interacted with the Department of Social Development to create a special grant for food parcels.
Mr Ngobese replied that the Department of Social Development had been involved in providing some food parcel distribution. The Department of Agriculture, under the Disaster Management Act, was mandated specifically to focus on grants but the co-ordination was done by the interdepartmental and the inter-ministerial committee. Government has made an allocation for these measures. Today's presentation primarily focused on the Department of Agriculture's input in the drought relief programme.
Mr Kgakatsi added that the presentation focused solely on the measures taken by the Department of Agriculture. An amount of R250m was approved by Cabinet, of which R100m was allocated for water provision, and before that an amount of R110m was allocated as well. R60m was allocated for social projects for needy people such as farmworkers. The aim was for the provincial Department of Agriculture to work with national government to ensure the distribution of relief measures in each province.
Mr D Kgware (ANC) [Northern Cape] sought clarity on the possible geographical overlap between the Kudumane and Kalahari districts in the North-West and Northern Cape provinces respectively, as indicated in the Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management Inputs document.
Mr Kgakatsi responded that the provinces would usually indicate the areas that were most affected. Since November 2003, the Northern Cape Province has been assisting the North-West Province. The lack of co-ordination was a problem and needed to be addressed. He was not sure of the naming of the districts.
Ms Majodina asked whether the Department planned to provide any other emergency relief to bring water to the communities affected, as the boreholes in her constituency were dry.
Mr Ngobese replied that the Department was working on this matter with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, as a member of the interdepartmental task team. A general assessment was thus being made to cover all those areas with the Department of Social Development, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and to provide the necessary infrastructure.
Mr T Ralane (ANC) [Free State] stated that the presentation exposed the lack of co-ordination in the Integrated Development Programmes (IDP) and provincial strategic plans.
Mr Ngobese replied that the presentation indicated that there was an interdepartmental disaster management task team that supported an inter-ministerial task team chaired by the Department of Provincial and Local Government. The Disaster Management Act was a mandate of the Department of Provincial and Local Government, and within that structure there was provincial input into some of the decisions taken by that task team.
Mr Ralane contended that most provinces did not take agricultural budgets very seriously and so did not put in place the necessary infrastructure to combat drought. National government had really assisted them by providing financial resources, whereas the provinces should themselves budget for such items.
Ms Majodina asked the Department to explain how exactly the relief funds were allocated to the various provinces, because it appeared that the Department had failed to consult with communities.
Mr Ngobese replied that the amounts that the Department was presenting as allocations to provinces were well above the normal budgets that provinces were already using to deal with drought relief. National government was thus 'topping up' those amounts.
Mr Ralane stated that most provinces had contingency reserves and requested the Department to indicate the use of these reserves. This was a problem because the provinces could not address these problems by using the IDP, their provincial strategic plan etc. as the primary funding vehicle.
Mr Ngobese responded that although local government had structures to deal with disasters, in some cases they did not have the necessary capacity to deal efficiently with the situation. There was a strong national response with regard to the budgetary allocation, and there was also an acknowledgement that more funds were needed to be allocated to provinces to deal with infrastructure needs. Over the next financial year, more funds would be allocated through the Division of Revenue Act to provinces for infrastructural needs.
Mr A Botha (DA) [Northern Province] asked the reason for the maximum limit of 30 livestock per farmer.
Mr Kgakatsi replied that the number was decided on so that the Department could focus its resources. The Department was currently working on an assistance scheme that could increase this number, and conditions were attached to the granting of assistance.
Mr Botha asked whether the Department has calculated the percentage of drought-stricken and underfed animals would receive assistance. He also asked whether it foresaw that the remainder of the animals not receiving assistance would die of hunger.
Mr Ngobese replied that each provincial Department of Agriculture had conducted an assessment and identified the districts most affected. The national department's role was to work with the provincial departments to try to "have a second take on those assessments". The Department could provide the results of some of the assessments.
Mr Botha stated that the presentation indicated that R200m had already been allocated to disaster relief, yet farmers in the Free State, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga who were hit by the winter frost damage in 2001, still have not received any assistance from government. He thus questioned whether the currently affected farmers would actually receive the R200m assistance before winter.
Mr Kgakatsi responded that the major problem was that many people had fraudulently informed the Department that they had lost their livestock. The national Department was thus asking the provincial Departments of Agriculture to verify claims before they issued relief funds.
Mr Botha reiterated his question on why those farmers who were frost-stricken in 2001, had still not received any relief from the R200m that was allocated for precisely that purpose.
Mr Kgakatsi replied that the Department was still currently spending funds on the alleviation of the frost damage, and the Department's monitoring and evaluation processes highlighted several loopholes in the procedure. Claims were also received from farmers in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but those clearly did not qualify.
Mr Botha stated that the Department has failed to answer his question. Some of the small farmers had lost 100% of their stock but have still not received any assistance.
Mr Kgakatsi responded that R200m was made available for them, but one of the main problems was that the Department had been unable to verify whether those farmers had in fact lost the livestock they claimed. The Department had allocated the funds to those provinces, and all that remained was for the provinces to decide how the funds would be allocated. Those Departments were also required to report back to the national department on a monthly basis on how they had allocated relief funds.
Ms B Thompson (ANC) [Kwazulu-Natal] asked the Department to indicate the measures it had in place to ensure that the entire assistance programme was not open to abuse. She was not sure how the Department was able to verify the precise number of cattle that a farmer claimed to have been lost through the drought.
Mr Kgakatsi responded that co-ordination throughout the three spheres of government was needed. A follow-up would also now be done to verify the information received.
Ms Thompson asked whether the emerging farmers were granted the same degree of relief as the established commercial farmers.
Mr Ngobese replied that the Department needed to look also at those who were most in need. In future, government would have to put the onus on farmers not to overstock in the hope that government would assist them. The Department was working with the Land Bank to protect the interests of farmers, especially in providing insurance against such droughts.
The Chair asked the Department to explain its plans to address the expected heat wave. Secondly, he asked whether it was satisfied with its monitoring systems to ensure that the relief funds were allocated to those in need. Did those funds actually provided relief to people?
Mr Ngobese stated that the Department was putting out monthly advisories to warm farmers of the upcoming weather. They had been mandated to prepare a disaster management plan and it was working with the Department of Provincial and Local Government to put this in place.
The meeting was adjourned.
Appendix : Framework to Access Drought Relief Funds
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
AGRICULTURAL RISK AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT
FRAMEWORK TO ACCESS THE DROUGHT RELIEF FUNDS PERIOD ENDING 31 MARCH 2004
Funds have been made available to Provinces for drought relief in the form of fodder for animals and the transport there-of. Further assistance is made available for drinking water to livestock where necessary. The costs of fodder and transport are subsidized by 75% and the allocated funds must be used for this purpose.
To ensure a fair and transparent distribution of assistance to farmers, the following steps must betaken:
- Establish the costs of fodder and transport (either per ton or per bale)
- Divide this into the allocated funds and the result will show how many tons or bales of fodder may be made available to farmers.
- Using the enclosed assessment form established the number of animals (cow units) of each farmer that qualifies for assistance in the drought stricken areas. Animals in this instance in this instance are defined as cattle, sheep and goats. You must ensure that the number of livestock and ownership is verified (Livestock Cards).
- Knowing how much fodder is available and the number of animals that are to be fed, the fodder that can be made available to each farmer on an equal basis can be calculated. The maximum number of livestock per farmer is 30 LSU.
- Under no circumstances may funds be distributed to farmers. The 75% subsidy must be paid to the suppliers of fodder and transport directly.
- Kindly confirm when the above has been attended to and advise the Senior Manager: Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management: Private Bag X 250, Pretoria 0001, Fax: (012) 319 6711, Tel. No. (012) 319 7956 of the amount of animals per farmer that is to be fed as soon as possible.
- Provinces to request an advance of the allocated funds from the above mentioned Senior Manager quoting your Treasury's bank details for the transfer of funds. The transfer is subject to an inspection of the system that you will use for the distribution of funds.
- A total amount of R20m was approved for the drilling/repair of bore holes in all provinces. In this regard please contact the Senior Manager: Water Usage and Irrigation Development at Private Bag X519, Silverton 0127, Fax (012) 804 0753, Tel. No. (012) 842 4282
- The Provinces will report their expenditure on the drought relief funds to the directorate: Agricultural Risk Disaster Management on monthly.
- The Department of Social Development is responsible for emergency relief to all people including farm workers so the PDAs should assist during the distribution. The PDAs should work closely with Municipalities and organized agriculture.
Please note that the grant may not be used to cover expenses and purchases prior to the receipt of your grant. Your urgent attention to these requests is in the interest of your farmers and you are therefore requested to give this your immediate attention.
The directorate: Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management will visit all provinces prior or during the implementation of the drought relief assistance. The directorate will continuously monitor and evaluate the process.
Senior Manager: Agricultural Risk and Disaster Management
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