The Department of Water and Sanitation in KwaZulu-Natal is set to roll out an Emergency Drought Mitigation Plan in areas affected by drought in the province.
The department said that currently, 256 towns and surrounding communities are reported to be affected by drought in the province.
The identified hotspot areas include Uthukela, Umzinyathi, Amajuba, Zululand, Uthungulu and Umgungundlovu.
The provincial department said approximately R97 million has been set aside for the short term drought intervention in the province.
Some of the short-term interventions to be implemented will include putting in place drought operating rules, groundwater resource development, water tankering from available sources, rainwater harvesting and the protection and use of springs, amongst others.
"The department has already begun providing the necessary support to communities affected through various action programmes. The new borehole programme has identified 1 118 new boreholes, 3 000 water tanks have been made available to provide water to affected communities and there is ongoing assessment for the refurbishment of boreholes," the department said.
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has since called on locals to enhance water conservation measures as the provincial dam storage capacity remains below average at 54.9%.
Meanwhile, Sisulu and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have set clear directives to officials of the two departments to address drought challenges.
The Ministers made the call at a joint Ministers and Members of Executive Councils (MINMEC) meeting held in Johannesburg last week. During the meeting, the Ministers received a joint presentation with regard to drought interventions across the country by the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the department.
The department has reprioritised more than R600 million of its finances towards assisting in the short-term drought interventions.
National Treasury has also allowed the department to use emergency procurement measures in drought stricken areas.
The Ministers emphasised that all efforts towards drought relief need urgent decision making and execution.
The Emergency Drought Mitigation Plan includes short-, medium- and long-term interventions designed to mitigate drought effects.
The short-term interventions are expected to be implemented over a period of three to six months, starting in February 2020.