South Africa

South Africa: Statement on the floods and rains causing a disaster in the province

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We are here today to express a consolidated and integrated government view and response on the recent floods and other disasters that have afflicted our province resulting in a loss of life, displacement and destruction of property.

We would firstly like to convey our deepest condolences as government to all the families that have lost loved ones due to the floods and rains. Our sincere sympathy goes to all businesses and households that lost property or suffered destruction.

Reports that were received from the districts indicate that about seven people in the province have lost their lives due to floods. Our disaster management in the Districts needs to be commended for their swift response to evacuate people, because more lives could have been lost. The disaster is estimated to cost the province something in the region of R50 million plus.

Funding will be required for the following broad areas:

  • humanitarian relief/ social relief
  • repair ofinfrastructure
  • agricultural Relief
  • repairs to damaged Houses
As of yesterday, 25 January 2011, key areas that have been severely affected in the province are; Agriculture, Tourism, Education, Human Settlements in addition to direct and indirect citizens.

In terms of the Disaster Management Act, the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, has issued a gazette to declare a National State of disaster covering 7 provinces and 28 municipalities country-wide, out of which four of our districts are directly affected and 15 local municipalities.

Frances Baardt District - (Magareng, Phokwane, Dikgatlong and Sol Plaatje).

Namakwa District - (Namakhoi, Richtersveld, Khai Ma).

Pixley Ka Seme - (Siyancuma, Siyathemba)

Siyanda District - (!Kheis, !Ka Garib, Tsantsabane, !Khara Hais, Mier)

Interventions

1. Department of Social Development

Thus far the Department has provided the following services to victims of the flood:

  • Counseling services for the family members who have lost loved ones as a direct result of the floods and to community members who were affected by the floods.
  • Supply of food parcels.
  • Home cooked meals that can be accessed through the soup kitchens
  • Tents for temporary shelter was provided.
  • Blankets.
  • Mattresses.
  • Clothing.
  • The South African Social Security Agency has also made funding available from their Social Relief of Distress Fund which will be utilised for food parcels, soup and bread for the affected victims.
2. Department of Health

In instances where floods caused inaccessibility via roads community members were transported via air transport. Up until yesterday a total of 167 patients were airlifted to safety and this service is ongoing. The department remains on high alert for cases of diarrhoea, cholera, malaria or any other medical emergency that can result as a case of the floods. A mobile clinic has been erected at Blaauwskop in the Upington region.

Chronic medication has been dispatched to patients on chronic medication. Regular monitoring and testing of water is done and community members are warned to please exercise care and not drink water from the rivers or any flooded pools.

Ongoing education is given to communities on water purification, good sanitation, hygienic food preparation, treatment formula, diarrhoea and hand washing. Medical conditions of people evacuated included asthmatic cases, diarrhoea, diabetes, trauma, allergic reactions, hypertension, stroke, fever, epilepsy and respiratory problems.

3. Department of Education

The department has been monitoring the situation since the week before the reopening of schools as part of the department's overall school readiness activities with much emphasis in the Siyanda District as it was most affected by the floods. Some schools in the Kakamas and Keimoes areas were adversely affected by the floods from the 17 -21 January 2011 due to the low bridges in that area. The department implemented an intervention programme where afternoon classes were conducted for High school learners. Today we can report that to a large extent the situation has turned to normality because all the schools are running as normal except for Lanklaas Eiland where the water levels are still high.

In the Frances Baard District where we witnessed the collapse of the Barkley West dam wall yesterday resulting in a complete block of access, learners could however be transported this morning to their respective schools. The situation in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District has improved except at Motshwarakgole Middle School where tragically one learner was swept away by a stream and on recovery she was reported dead by yesterday. We wish to convey our heartflet condoleneces to the family for the loss of their child and the District will assist the family during this time of bereavement. In the Pixley ka Seme District the hardest hit were the farm schools due to damage of access roads but the District Municipality is giving attention to this problem.

4. Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

Officials of the Depart ment are monitoring the situation all over the province and will respond appropriately in any eventuality. Due to floods there will be low harvesting especially in the vineyards which employs close to 55 000 seasonal workers and 4 178 permanent workers per annum. This will lead to massive amounts of unemployment in this sector and as a result impact negatively on the gross domestic products (GDP) of the province.

This is not a final assessment but at this stage 8 439 hectares of agricultural land has been flooded. A total of 91 kilometres of road will need to be repaired or reconstructed, 4k of canals and sluices to be reconstructed, 17.6 km of diversion walls government however commits itself to assist the agricultural community as and where the need arises.

Conclusion

On 6 January 2011 the Provincial Joint Operation Centre was established which is based in Upington in the Siyanda District. Subsequent to that we established the Intergovernmental Committee at a Provincial which is based in Kimberley and chaired by the Provincial Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs.

We would like to thank all the volunteers and community members for their continued assistance, the Provincial and District Joint Operation Centers as well as the Intergovernmental Committee for their continued commitment in responding to the needs of the affected people.

We would like to ensure the public that Government will do everything in its power to prevent further loss of life and will ensure a comprehensive and result-driven relief to all affected families.

We are calling on private sector to come on board and assist with the relief of the affected communities. We are also engaging big corporates like Vodacom to also make donations.

Source : Nothern Cape Provincial Government

Issued by: Northern Cape Office of the Premier

26 Jan 2011