Disaster Management in Province must be improved

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The tabling of the department of COGHSTA’s quarterly report did little to answer the important issues around disaster management in the province. We welcome the department’s passion for the issue and we trust that this interest will soon translate into effective service delivery.

The Northern Cape remains the only province without a disaster management centre, which must be established in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002. We are not asking for a separate building to be erected. We are saying that the department must put in place the mechanisms to respond effectively, efficiently and quickly when disaster strikes. At the moment, the provincial government adopts a business-as-usual approach when it comes to disasters – for example, flood damage from four years ago is still being paid out today.

After the department of Agriculture assessed drought conditions in July 2013, it took until December 2013 before the Office of the Premier acted on the assessment report and finally declared a drought. It took until April 2014 before a small amount of disaster relief was allocated by the National Disaster Management Centre.

This is why we are asking for a provincial disaster management centre.

By the time the provincial government starts to allocate pennies, farmers have already gone under. The Northern Cape as a province is prone to disaster – you either have a flood, a drought, devastating veld fires or a combination of it all. Farmers, especially subsistence farmers, cannot be expected to cope with disaster conditions on their own. District municipalities must be capacitated to spend their conditional grants for disaster management and not be allowed to accrue billions while the agricultural sector suffers.