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South Africa: Drought relief extension welcomed, but urgent assistance still needed

Agri SA welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, that the proclamation of drought relief would be extended by a further month.

The summer rainfall season has passed, delivering insufficient rain in most of the regions afflicted by the devastating drought conditions. The lingering drought has had far-reaching consequences for agriculture and has been catastrophic for local economies in the drought-stricken areas. In the Western Cape, a lower-than-normal winter rainfall season could exacerbate the problem.

Since the national state of disaster was declared on 4 March 2020 and the Minister of Finance’s budget speech, there has been no government intervention to mitigate the consequences of the drought. Today, June 5, 2020, the Minister of Finance issued another notice, to provide for the immediate provision of unallocated disaster relief funds.

“Farmers urgently require assistance if their farming operations, workers and communities and the fragile local economies are to survive. We are hopeful that some of the funds that were announced today will be utilised towards much-needed drought relief,” said Willem Symington, Head of Agri SA’s Disaster Management Unit.

Agri SA also called on the government to provide financial assistance to farmers who are affected by the drought in the form of stock feed, water infrastructure, drills, equipment, upgrading of boreholes, and other interventions that could help to soften the burden of those who are suffering. Agri SA also asked that a report on drought relief spending in terms of the national disaster be made available. Agri SA and its members have used the funds donated by the private sector and other donations since 2015 to assist many of the affected farming communities.


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