South Africa

South Africa: Severe Thunderstorms - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation MDRZA011

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

In the early hours of the 12th of December, heavy thunderstorms hit Mthatha town, in the OR Tambo district of the Eastern Cape province. Media reports indicated a total death toll of 6 people, more than 27 people hospitalized and 100s being homeless. As the week progressed, Amathole, Buffalo city, Chris Hani, Alfred Nzou and Joe Gqabi surrounding districts were also impacted by thunderstoms. Reports further stipulated that over 1,000 homes were damaged, with the likely of more being affected. To date, through on-going joint assessments by the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), local municipalities and other stakeholders inclusive of the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS), 1,762 households (8,810 people) have been recorded to adversely affected. Additionally, the South African weather services (SAWS) issued an orange level 5 warning with turbulent weather conditions predicted to bring more showers and thunderstorms in the already affected areas of the Eastern Cape province.

Some affected populations’ homes have been severely damaged or destroyed with others being partially damaged, posing the risk of unsafe buildings especially with continuous heavy rains still experienced in affected areas. Many families have lost household items to the weather or had to leave without being able to take them with them. The infrastructure of their neighbourhoods, the market, public transport and other important services is also impacted yet based on the initial assessment, services remain available. SARCS will continue to actively participate in Joint Operations Committee (JOC) which are spearheaded by both province and district municipalities to ensure well-coordinated response and recovery interventions which minimize duplication of efforts to same communities whilst other communities are still in need. The following table displays number of households affected and the extent of damage assessed in the four affected districts.

In addition, people’s livelihoods have been greatly disrupted. Some families have lost flocks of sheep, goats, and chickens and other essential assets especially in the OR Tambo district as displayed in the graph below.

Several people have sought refuge from friends, family, and other are staying in community halls and/or schools in nearby communities which are not affected. In total there are 450 families that are accommodated in community halls and schools across three districts (OR Tambo; Amathole and Alfred Nzou). This is posing great risks of the spread of COVID-19 as people cannot adhere to physical distancing. Some family members suffered psychosocial trauma due to the impact of thunderstorm. The congested conditions in temporary shelters are known to increase GBV as privacy and security are compromised.

The thunderstorm has greatly affected health, WASH, food security and livelihoods sectors and people are struggling to cope will ripple effects which include trauma, stress, limited hygiene materials and food insecurities. Coupled with lower -income levels due to disturbed livelihoods; people’s well-being is at risk especially with the prevalence of COVID-19 infection. Based on above, this DREF request will focus on supporting the urgent needs of affected communities which include psychosocial first aid (PFA), food, hygiene materials, and replacing lost essential household items like blankets, and mattresses.