South Africa: Residents Living Below Flood Line Urged to Relocate Immediately

13 December 2019

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has reiterated her appeal to shack-dwellers and people who live below the flood line to relocate immediately to higher and safer areas to avoid being flooded.

The Minister warned especially shack dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal who live next to rivers to relocate after the South African Weather Services report predicted 80% rains in the province until the weekend.

Last month, eThekwini Municipality embarked on a drive to warn people who have their structures next to rivers such as Isipingo River in Durban, to move away in anticipation of the heavy rains that might result in localised flooding.

"The warning has now been extended to all the people who live below the flood line along the coastal belt to relocate immediately," Sisulu said.

The heavy rains that fell in parts of the country have wreaked havoc and mayhem in Gauteng where a woman died and households were destroyed after being flooded this week.

The week-long rains caused widespread flooding in the province, with several motorists and residents in Centurion and Mamelodi in Pretoria left stranded as a result.

The Joburg and Tshwane Metros are keeping their water restrictions in place while assessing the cumulative impact of heavy rains in the two cities.

Recent rains have little impact on country's water situation

Meanwhile, the department said the recent rains in Gauteng and parts of Mpumalanga and south of Limpopo have had little impact on the country's water situation, with dam levels still dropping by one percent weekly.

"On the contrary, the national dam levels have dropped from 57.6% to 56, and 1% this week. Hydrologists attributed this state of affairs to the heavy rains falling in areas that have little or no catchments at all. The heavy rains only had an impact on smaller dams in regions that did not have sufficient catchments to harness rain water," the department said.

An overview report on the drought compiled by the department noted that overall, at national level, dams are still at a lower average level and still falling slightly despite a few increases.

However, the report said good rains in Gauteng and Mpumalanga accounted for good increases in some related dams; while dams in Limpopo and North West showed modest improvement.

Dams in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Lesotho continued their modest decreases while significant drops were recorded in Free State and Western Cape.

The Western Cape has entered its dry summer hydrological season until May next year.

According to the report, dams in Mpumalanga, upper Limpopo and Northern Free State will benefit from the Gauteng runoff over the next week.

The weekly report painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in Eastern Cape where vast parts of the region are experiencing extremely dry conditions to a complete drought.

The regions under stress include Butterworth, towns falling under the Chris Hani District Municipality and eight others under the jurisdiction of Joe Gqabi. The Xilinca Dam and smaller weirs that provide water to Butterworth and surrounding areas in Eastern Cape, is empty.

"The department continues to help alleviate the impact of this misfortune in the stressed regions of the province, including funding in the region of R248 million already spent.

"Two weeks ago Minister Sisulu met with the mayor of Butterworth and other principals to discuss ways of intervention in a town where the local dam has run dry completely."

The situation remained desperate in the Mopani Region of Limpopo where the Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba dams dropped to 4.8% and 2.7%, respectively.

"Given the situation in the region, it is another area of concern for the department," Sisulu said.

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