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KZN facing worst drought since 1982

An official says rain is needed within a month or there will be devastating long-term consequences.

A school girl tries to collect water from a dry puddle in Nongoma, in KwaZulu-Natal, which has been badly affected by the recent drought. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) Cooperative Governance Department says the current drought gripping parts of the province is the worst since 1982 with some areas bone dry, while others have been given a lifeline .

KZN and the Free State have been declared disaster areas.

The water and sanitation department has since allocated more than R300 million towards intervention strategies.

The department says the drought is affecting the entire province and rain is needed within a month or there will be devastating long-term consequences.

The department's Lennox Mabaso says the situation is dire where cattle and crops are dying in increasingly desert-like conditions.

"Almost every region is affected. There are areas where right now the entire town is without water, and the dam is sitting at 0.0 percent."

He says government has a number of strategies in place including the provision of water tankers to the worst affected areas.

"Some teams have already been sent to investigate the possibility of desalination plants that can be utilised. But we need rain. The rain must fall, and it must fall immediately."

But Mabaso says the drought is a natural crisis and is not solely a government problem. The department says business should do more in the face of the crippling drought."

LISTEN: Water & Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the country is facing a crisis by virtue of the fact that it is a water-scarce land. Listen as she discusses government's drought relief efforts.

'FARMERS MUST ADAPT'

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said South African farmers must adapt to changing weather patterns brought about by climate change.

The minister said extreme heat, uncharacteristic snowfall and cold fronts during the summer months have been caused by climate change, which worsened over the past 15 years.

Molewa said in places such as northern KZN, shorelines have already started receding while the western part of southern Africa continues to dry.

She said the effects of climate change can already be seen in places like Durban and that the ongoing drought means it's time for farmers to think differently.

At the same time, AgriSA says the country is drought-stricken and should brace for lesser rainfall in the coming years.

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