Disaster Management

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

27 March 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


27 March 2001

Chairperson: Rev. Goosen

Documents handed out:
Risk, sustainable development and disasters (e-mail:nomdo@enviro.uct.ac.za for this book)
Mandisa System as presented by DiMP of UCT
Disaster Management Draft Bill
Disaster Management presentation (see Appendix)

The Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Project spoke on the Mandisa System, an information management tool to analyse disaster data to provide a proactive planning tool in disaster mitigation.

The Department presented on their Disaster Management programme and the draft bill.

Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Project
The Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Project (DiMP) is a research team based in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town, comprising: Dr. Ailsa Holloway (Project Coordinator);Christina Nomdo (Risk Education facilitator)and Kerryn Mckune (Risk education researcher) They have conducted extensive research on the context of the new Bill on Disaster Management.

Dr Holloway stated that billions of dollars have been lost due to disasters. In South Africa there has been an increase in the occurrence and severity of disasters. The two important elements in respect of disaster risks in South Africa are:-
- the importance of emphasizing disaster risk and management,
- obtaining information to indicate where to invest measures in order to reduce or contain risk

Ms Nomdo introduced the Mandisa System to the Committee and stated that the function of the system is to:-
-link strategy information management with development planning;
-illustrate disaster incidents;
-be a data capturing tool;
-demonstrate the Data Import Function.

Ms Nomdo illustrated how one would use the Mandisa System. She stated that it is highly effective in highlighting the areas of disaster, risk and vulnerabilities, enabling proactive risk reduction planning and in identifying development priorities.

Ms G Borman (DP) asked how data is collected and whether other universities are involved in capturing data in the same way as in the Western Cape.

Ms McKune replied that there is a proposal that they have tendered to consolidate information collected in other provinces, and that there are field workers who study incidents in order to capture the relevant data.

Mr P Smith (IFP) inquired if there was an internationally accepted definition of what a "disaster" is and how disasters are classified as "incidents".

Dr Holloway replied that the International Secretariat for disaster reduction in Geneva is compiling a glossary of definitions in this field and that there is an internationally recognised definition of "disaster". She stated that events of all magnitudes are called "one incident".

Ms R Southgate (ACDP) asked why data was only being captured for the Western Cape and why does one need to have internet to access the system.

Dr Holloway replied that it is very time consuming to identify different data sources, due to a limited budget the database is focused on the Cape area only for the time being. The internet is very useful, although limited, to those who have access to the internet. She gave an example of a range of users from a school teacher who could plan a lesson on disasters to a Ward Counsellor who could look at various trends.

Ms C Lobe (ANC) was pleased that socio-economic factors were acknowledged as having huge implications on disasters. In the past development planning did not take into cognisance issues relating to disaster management. The awareness of communities for disasters and risk is very low such as a community that squatted on the banks of a river in Gauteng that is subject to flooding. There is a need to emphasize awareness. She further acknowledged the fact that Mandisa intends to advance to other provinces.

Ms B Sonjica (Chairperson of Water Affairs) said that it was necessary to look at campaigns such as Fire Stop to share information on coping with disasters.

Mr Solo (ANC) asked to what extent people that were directly affected by disasters had been contacted, and what is the relationship between DiMP and Local Government.

Ms Nomdo replied that there is a separate strategy for community development, which is an important part of risk reduction. She noted that there is no more funding available for the project and there is the possibility that they may not be able to extend the project. With regards to the relationship with Local Government, DiMP builds contact by means of Community Projects, the Provincial Development Council and the Provincial Strategic Plan. Their research team is small and as a result they are making incremental progress.

The chairperson concluded by saying that this Data System should be effectively utilised in the prevention of disasters and there was a need to teach people how to access and utilise the system.

Ms Nomdo replied that there are short courses available, together with Honours and Masters degrees, in Disaster and Risk Management at the University of Cape Town which focus on theory and in participatory experience to interpret and analyse the data. All Disaster Managers from each province had been informed of the Mandisa System, and they could discuss the information at the Joint Operational Centres.

Policy Structures, Intervention in Cholera and Floods and Proposed Legislation
Mr Louis Buys presented (see presentation document). He stated that that there was no shortage of people willing to donate and share with victims of disasters, but it is the ability to distribute these goods that is practically non-existent. Mr Buys stated that from a policy perspective one needed to look at determining the strength of NGOs in the provinces in order to participate jointly with them. The NGOs could act on behalf of government and take the responsibility for relief work out of government’s hands.

Ms Sonjica asked how far the strategy on cholera had been developed. Was there an overlap with departments dealing with cholera making it difficult to monitor the progress?

Mr Buys answered that the strategy deals with the roles of the various National Departments, particularly Health, Education, Water Affairs and Forestry. It was agreed at National level what role each is to play and how and when their progress would be reported. There are four Joint Operational Centres in Kwa-Zulu Natal dealing specifically with cholera. These are chaired either by members of SAPS or the SA Medical Services or the SANDF. Mr Buys meets with them once every two weeks to monitor their progress.

Mr Lyle (ANC) stated that he was perturbed at the content of the disaster management workshops as they dealt with floods and cholera, but no mention was made of droughts.

Mr Buys replied that he was only asked to make a presentation on cholera and floods, but advised that they were working in close proximity with the Department of Agriculture to monitor this.

Ms Lobe (ANC) commented that Local Government had a constitutional obligation to develop communities so that they had proper access to water, sanitation and medication.

Mr P Smith (IFP) referred to the number of deaths reported from cholera and asked why the Government had not declared this a disaster.

Mr Buys said that he did not think he could answer Mr Smith as this was a political decision. Advice was given by his Department but no request had been made to declare it a disaster.

Mr Solo (ANC) said that the biggest problem around disaster management was lack of information. There was a need to follow up on activities taking place on the ground level. He stated that Joint Operational Centres (JOCs) should be extended to include communities that can help with distribution of provisions held in warehouses.

Mr Buys replied that currently JOCs only get together once there was a very specific threat or a disaster had occurred. They were ad hoc in the sense that people who served on JOCs are part of the SANDF or the SAPS or a part of utility companies such as Telkom or Eskom. He stated that it should be encouraged from a national level that people serving on JOCs should establish contact well before any event occurs, and that they should know who the people serving in the various JOCs are. Many members were individuals who do not have authority to commit resources or make an informed decision.

Ms G Borman (DP) asked which department captured the data and at what stage this was.

Mr Buys replied that these questions would be answered when the Budget was discussed. He further stated that a National Vulnerability Atlas is being developed at national level(work is done on a 1.7 km x 1.7 km area). The broad issues of infrastructure are monitored. Work is not done in isolation, for example, the University of the Free State is aiding with studies.

Mr P Smith (IFP) enquired what the distinction between a disaster and an emergency was.

Mr Buys answered that there was no simple answer to this. A disaster is something with a quick onset, as opposed to HIV/Aids or cholera.
The Chairperson asked if it is the province’s responsibility to intervene and monitor situations when they arise. What would happen if a province did not declare a disaster area when it was a disaster?

Mr Buys replied that this was a point of debate in the White Paper. He stated that the constitution is clear on the fact that the authority of the different spheres of government was respected. Political circumstances would dictate more often than not. He further stated that the current cholera epidemic was not declared a disaster, and National Ministers decided not to intervene.

Disaster Management Bill
Mr Buys referred to the draft Bill. However it was pointed out by the Chairperson that nobody in the Committee had seen the Bill and so a discussion would not help at this stage as the Committee as they were not in a position to comment on it.

Mr Buys noted that there was a problem with insufficient funding for the implementation of the Bill. Currently they had was one-seventh of what was required for its implementation.

In response to Ms Borman query if a phased-in approach would be adopted for implementing the Bill, Mr Buys answered that this will be dealt with exhaustively in a May briefing on the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.



1.1 Introduction and Background
· 26 November 1997 Cabinet approved the Green Paper on Disaster Management for distribution and comment.
· 30 April 1998 the White Paper Task Team, chaired by Ms Janet Love (MP) was appointed.
26 October 1998 the White Paper was approved by Cabinet.

· The aim of the White Paper is to provide South Africa with sound policy for disaster management which will culminate in legislation which is unique to the South African context.

· It is an accepted fact that the primary responsibility for disaster management in South Africa vests in government.

· Part A of Schedule 4 of the Constitution identified disaster management and related issues as areas of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence.
· Other relevant sections of the Constitution are
-section 10 (human dignity)
-section 11 (right to life)
-section 24 (environment)
-section 27 (health care, food and water)
-section 4(1)(b) (well-being of the people)
-section 152(1)(d) (promoting a safe and healthy

· This means that both national and provincial government has powers and responsibilities in relation to disaster management.

· It is accepted though, that all spheres of government should play their part in promoting disaster management which forms part of co-operative governance.

· Disaster-related losses and their consequences are usually hardest felt within vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities.

· In an endeavour to deal with disasters in all their severity, proper structures to coordinate and integrate disaster management at national level have been established.

· The new dimension to disaster management is that it should not only include the responseg recoverv and relief side (post-disaster recovery phase), once a disaster has occurred, but should also focus on the preparedness towards disasters, prevention and mitigation (the pre-disaster risk-reduction phase).

· It is imperative that human resources and adequate funding to deal effectively with the entire scope of disaster management, be made available.

1.2 Developing a New Approach
· The White Paper emphasises the fact that the current perceptions of disasters need to change drastically.

· Disasters and serious events during the past few years emphasised the fact that disasters are not primarily rare occurrences managed by emergency rescue services but should be coordinated in a much more constructive manner.

· The new approach to disaster management forces us to be more practical and calls for a two-pronged approach:

Significantly strengthened capacity to track! collate! monitor and disseminate information on phenomena and activities known to trigger disaster events, such as droughts, floods, epidemics and fire.

This needs to be supported by institutional emergency preparedness and response capacity primarily by government at local! provincial and national levels.

An increased commitment to prevention and mitigation actions that will reduce the probability and severity of disaster events.

These actions should be incorporated into existing and future policies, plans and projects of national, provincial and local government, as well as policies and practices of the private sector.

· Urgent action should be taken to reduce the probability and severity of disaster occurrences through developmental action and planning.

1.3 Chapter 5 of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act No.32 of 2000)

· Deals with integrated development planning and paves the way towards the new approach to disaster management.

· Section 26(1)(b) of the said Act, makes it obligatory that the integrated development plan of a municipality must reflect applicable disaster management plans.

Clause 5 (Chapter 1) provides that the Minister, by notice in the Government Gazette

· -must establish a national disaster management framework.

· May from time to time amend the national disaster management framework.

2.2 Contents of national disaster management framework

· The national disaster management framework must outline a coherent, transparent and inclusive policy on disaster management appropriate for the Republic as a whole with a proportionate emphasis on disasters of different kinds, severity and
magnitude that occur or may occur in Southern Africa, and must -

· guide the development and implementation of the concept of disaster management as envisaged by this Act

· establish prevention and mitigation as the core principle of the disaster management policy

· facilitate-

(i) South Africa's co-operation in international disaster management
(ii) regional co-operation in disaster management in Southern Africa; and
(iii) the establishment of joint standards of practice;

· give effect to the application of co-operative governance on issues concerning disasters and disaster management among the spheres of government and -

(i) determine the relationship between the sphere of government exercising primary responsibility for the co-ordination and management of a disaster in terms of sections 26 (1), 39 (1) and 50 (1) or (2) and those spheres of government performing supportive roles

(ii) allocate specific responsibilities in this regard to the different spheres

(iii) guide the development and implementation of disaster management within national, provincial and municipal organs of state on a cross-functional and multi-disciplinary basis and allocate responsibilities in this regard to different organs of state

· facilitate-

(i) involvement of the private sector, non-governmental organisations, communities and volunteers in disaster management; and

(ii) partnerships between organs of state and the private sector, non-governmental organisations and communities

· provide incentives for disaster management capacity-building and training

· provide a framework within which organs of state may fund disaster management, including grants to contribute to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation and the payment of compensation to victims of disasters and their dependents.


2.3 Disaster Management Manual

· A draft Disaster Management Manual has been completed

· The Disaster Management Manual will not be finalised before the Disaster Management Bill has been promulgated.

· The final document will be workshopped with a core group of disaster management experts before it is published for comments.

2.4 Disaster Management Working Groups

· Fifteen Working Groups have been established.

· Each Working Group has been assigned to a particular government department that must take responsibility in accordance with its roles and responsibilities regarding disaster management.

· Sub-ordinate legislation will possibly emanate from the functioning of each Working Group.

2.5 Other policies that might have to be considered or developed

· Comprehensive disaster management training policy

· Policy to develop, gather and analyse disaster management technology and information

· Clear policy on the funding of disasters

· A pragmatic approach to coordinate and support disaster relief (basic needs) in disaster situations when it occurs.

19 March 1997 Cabinet sanctioned that a National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) be established.

· National government has accepted that it has a broad responsibility to support the provinces and local government in developing disaster management matters through the NDMCI


Working Group Department responsible
Floods Department of Water Affairs & Forestry
Drought Department of Agriculture
Veld and Forest Fires Department of Water Affairs & Forestry
Enyironmental Emergencies Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism
Epidemics Department of Health
Weather Warnings DEAT (SA Weather Bureau)
Urgent Response Department of Provincial & Local Govt.
Disaster Relief Department of Welfare
Refugees Department of Home Affairs
Mine Disasters Department of Minerals and Energy
International Aspects Department of Foreign Affairs
Policy and Legislation Department of Provincial & Local Government
Training and Capacity Building Department of Provincial & Local Govt.
Radiation-related incidents The National Nuclear Regulator
Telecommunications SANDF (CMIS)





3.1 Structures i.t.o. the Disaster Management Bill

· Inter-governmental Committee on Disaster Management (IDMC) - clause 4 of the Bill

· National Disaster Management Advisory Forum

· Provincial disaster management centres

· Municipal disaster management centres

4.1 Floods

The NDMC through the Department of Provincial and Local Government, assisted in the following manner -

· Guidance to provinces to activate their provincial JOCs to manage the situation.

· Arranged visits by relevant Ministers to disaster stricken areas.

· Constant liaison with the SANDF and the SAPS for support, and assistance, especially the availability of helicopters and divers to rescue and evacuate persons in danger, or to search for bodies, to transport food, clothing and medication to cut-off communities.

· Established a National JOC to determine actions to be taken regarding the reconstruction of public infrastructure - this task was taken over by the Command Centre due to the magnitude of the disaster.

· Liaised with the SANDF (SAAF) to establish a warehouse at Air Force Base Waterkloof to received donated goods for flood victims in the relevant provinces and Mozambique.

· Established a National Emergency Relief Fund (NERF) - for monetary donations.

· Two meetings were held at Ministerial level and one at level to discuss the flood situation in the SADC region scope of assistance to Mozambique.
officials and the

· Constant liaison with the SA Weather Bureau to timeously determine weather patterns and issue early warnings.

· Constant liaison with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Mozambique Commissioner's Office regarding assistance and the handling and dispatching of donated goods.

4.2. Cholera
· Several meetings of Ministers and MECs of Health and Provincial and Local Government were held.

· At the first meeting it was inter alia decided that -the cholera epidemic does not warrant to be declared
-a disaster in terms of the Civil Protection Act.

-the situation justifies that the disaster management structures at national provincial and local level must be activated to manage and coordinate the situation in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic before it reaches disastrous proportions.

· The NDMC at an early stage liaised with the SANDF for supportlassistance in KwaZulu-Natal.

· A National JOC, comprising all relevant role players has been established to monitor and manage the situation.

· A communication task team has been established to coordinate the communication and public awareness campaign.

· A National Strategy on Cholera is being compiled.

5.1 Disaster Management Bill
· Flowing from the Green and White Papers on Disaster Management, the Disaster Management Bill was compiled.

· The Bill endeavours to capture the new pre-disaster risk reduction approach relating --the prevent of disasters
-preparedness for disasters
-mitigation of the consequences of a disaster

· The emphasis previously, was on the post-disaster recovery phase.

· The Disaster Management Bill was published for public comment in Government Gazette No.20814 of 21 January 2000.

· Due to public demand, the deadline for comments was extended from 18 February 2000 to 17 March 2000.

· Fifty-five comments were received from a wide variety of institutions, role players and individuals.

· The necessary amendments were effected and the amended version of the Bills was forwarded to the State Law Advisors during November 2000 in an effort to expedite the process.

· Initially, it was envisaged that the Bill would be submitted during the second half of 2000.

· A Cabinet memorandum was compiled to be submitted to Cabinet during October 2000 (twice) and then again on 8 December 2000. At all three occasions, the Bills was withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda.

In terms of the revised legislative programme -
-the Bill has been set for submission to Cabinet during March 2001
-publication of notice to introduce into Parliament due in April 2001

· It has become imperative that the Disaster Management Bill be promulgated as soon as possible to replace the outdated Civil Protection Act, 1977

thus ensuring a uniform approach towards disaster management in the countrv and to further the oblectives as set out in the Bills and the Business Plan of the Disaster Management Programme.

· A special IMC meeting to discuss the Disaster Management Bills has been arranged for 28 March 2001.

5.2 From the Disaster Management Act will probably flow a number of regulations and sub-ordinate legislation.

5.3 Disaster management, being a concurrent legislative competency, will most probably result in a number of provincial legislation.


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