PRETORIA– Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the national state of disaster because of drought which was declared three months ago has lapsed in terms of legislation and will not be extended.

I have decided not to renew the State of the National Drought Disaster when it lapses on 13 June 2018, he said Wednesday.

The Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on Drought and Water Scarcity announced on 13 March 2018 that the government had declared a national state of disaster to deal with the country’s drought crisis. Since then, various interventions were initiated or intensified by the respective spheres of government, Mkhize said.

These interventions were executed within the prescribed existing legislation and the respective contingency arrangements developed to deal with the acute phase of the drought, he added said.

The various spheres of government mobilized and re-prioritised resources in their existing allocations. They expedited procurement processes and accessed 433.52 million Rand (about 32,6 million US dollars) from the respective disaster grants to implement the augmentation and other immediate relief projects.

The implementation of these immediate relief and augmentation projects are ongoing and has evidently already mitigated the immediate impact of the drought, Mkhize said.

He added that last month, the National Joint Drought Co-ordinating Committee (NJDCC) conducted assessments which showed that the acute phase of the drought in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape Provinces and in some smaller pockets in the country was at its end, and was now entering the resilience building phase.

The resilience-building phase of a drought is currently the key focus of dealing with drought as a concern for adaptation to climate change. This entails, among others, improving the identification, funding, coordination and management of resilience-building projects aimed at reducing vulnerability to drought.

To achieve this, Mkhize said the NDJCC will broaden its focus beyond the continual monitoring of resilience-building projects to include focused projects funded from the allocations of the respective organs of state in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) aimed at the identification and implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction projects.