The drought in the Northern Cape province which has been ongoing for the past 5 years is the worst it has ever been in the past 50 years, and farmers are being ruined due to the government dragging its feet. Northern Cape Premier Dr. Zamani Saul is being asked to declare a provincial emergency and escalate the issue as quickly as possible.
It has been more than a year since the province has been trying to be declared a drought-stricken disaster area as over 70% of the province is suffering from the worst drought in 50 years and and livestock deaths are occurring across a wide area.
Calls for Northern Cape premier, Dr. Zamani Saul, to declare his province a drought disaster area, are intensifying. Organised agriculture have described the situation as a crisis, with 62 000 jobs at risk. Drought aid is set by experts at around R600m to keep farmers on the ground, but authorities have just over R100m as their estimates, which, according to experts, is far too low.
With the heavy snowfall of the past few days, and the cold wind there, farmers were staring in despair as weakened animals collapsed not to rise again.
One potential reason for the prevailing Northern Cape drought conditions might be because it has been going on for five years, so it is not exactly new or exciting news.
However, that in no way means the situation is any less deserving of attention though and, if the report shared by the DA is accurate, is becoming increasingly dire.
An unpublished report apparently compiled by the Northern Cape government paints a rather bleak picture:
- Stock farmers have access to very limited food supply from natural rangelands
- Borehole levels in many areas are dropping significantly
- 10 000 farms with a carrying capacity of 166 000 large stock units have experienced prolonged drought. This could increase to 1 million large stock units if nothing is done.
- Prolonged drought conditions have prevailed for the past five years
- Farmers are so indebted that they cannot secure loans to keep their farms running
- 62 000 jobs throughout the province are at risk
- Kids are missing school because parents can’t afford transport costs
- Even if the rain comes, it will take five years for farmers and land to fully recover
“The Northern Cape is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than a century,” reads the very first line of the executive summary of the report.
“The direct impact of this current drought and potential escalation if the drought prevails will be disastrous to the economy of the Northern Cape Province.”
Declarations of district and provincial disasters have been made before, but the funding model that comes with it has been inadequate, according to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
“The funding typically helps farmers for about three months, after which time they again have to fend for themselves, as disaster proclamations and drought relief expires after three months,” he explained.
“We are also calling on the Premier to see to it that the ineffective disaster management system is reviewed to ensure that drought relief is effected more speedily and is more sustainable,” Maimane added.