By – SAnews.gov.za
Cape Town – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says government has invested hundreds of millions of rands towards drought relief efforts.
The Minister said this during a Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster briefing on Tuesday, following President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.
The cluster includes the departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Human Settlements, Public Works, Social Development, Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Health, Science and technology, Basic Education, Water and Sanitation, Rural Development and Land Reform, Labour and Higher Education and Training, among others.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation has invested more than R450 million to intensify drought relief efforts.
“The resources allocated have been utilised for motorised water tankers, borehole drilling and rehabilitation as well as the improvement of dysfunctional infrastructure,” the Minister said.
As water shortages hit several areas across the country last year, government moved to assist those that were severely affected through the deployment of water tankers and the drilling of boreholes.
Farmers who needed support were urged to contact government urgently to receive the necessary assistance.
During the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly last week, President Zuma said with five provinces already having been seriously affected by drought, government was responding to the water shortage challenges.
The five provinces – North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga – have been affected.
The President also commended the civil society initiative, Operation Hydrate, among others, who have gone out of their way to provide the much needed water resources to communities in distress.
On Tuesday, the Minister said additional water transfers from uThukela River to the Goedetrouw Dam, and from the Uthongathi River to the Hazelmere Dam were taking place continuously.
Also, water was still being released from the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme into the Caledon River to supplement the water supply to Mangaung.
“Government, working in partnership with civil society, will ensure that all communities have access to water,” she said.
During the State of the Nation Address, the President said the building of water infrastructure remained critical for the country to expand access of water to residential and industrial consumers.
He said the first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile Water Augmentation project in the Lephalale area in Limpopo was fully operational and would provide 30 million cubic meters of water per annum.
The raising of the Clan William Dam wall in the Western Cape, the President said, entailed raising the existing dam level by 13 metres to provide additional water supply.
To curb water wastage, the Department of Water and Sanitation has begun its programme of training 15 000 young people as artisans.