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Crops & cattle die as KZN drought worsens

The province says the crippling drought is the worst water shortage experienced since 1982.

FILE. The Water and Sanitation Department has allocated more than R300 million towards intervention strategies, adding that government is not helpless at the helm of the drought. Picture: CNN/screengrab

JOHANNESBURG - The KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance Department says business should do more in the face of the crippling drought, adding that water shortages are not solely a government problem.

The province says the crippling drought is the worst water shortage experienced since 1982, where some areas are bone dry while others have been given a lifeline of 120 days.

So far, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State are the only two provinces that have been declared disaster areas.

The Water and Sanitation Department has allocated more than R300 million towards intervention strategies, adding that government is not helpless at the helm of the drought.

But the department's Lennox Mabaso says a drought can't be politicised to be the fault of anyone in particular, adding that it's a natural disaster and it needs attention from all sectors.

"We're saying that all of us can play our roles. We need to see the messages of water conservation on our premises. We need to see how we're conserving water, what methodologies are being used. Government is exploring a number of options."

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.

Mabaso says the situation is dire as 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 businesses and the communities must come to the party.

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.

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