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#SADrought: DA pleads with farmers not to give up

The weather service says 2015 was the driest year since weather data was first recorded in 1904.

FILE: An dead sheep lies in a dry field after sever water shortages hit the Western Cape area. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) is pleading with farmers to hold on for as long as possible in the face of an ongoing drought.

The South African Weather Service said 2015 was the driest year since weather data was first recorded in 1904.

The service says it has compared compiled data of yearly rainfall from January to December each year since records began.

In the last couple of months drought conditions across the country have seen a sharp increase in the price of maize as farmers struggle to meet demand.

Forecasters say while it's anticipated that South Africa will experience lower than normal rainfall this year, the situation could change at any point.

DA Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Annette Steyn, has travelled across the country visiting farmers to assess the severity of the drought.

Steyn travelled over 4,000 kilometres to measure the impact of the drought.

She said she has pleaded with farmers not to give up hope for much needed assistance.

"Please as farmers keep going, we need farmers from the land because if we lose farmers now, who will be feeding the nation next year and the years after?"

A handful of provinces have been declared disaster areas as well as some parts of the Western Cape.

OPERATION HYDRATE

Earlier this week, Operation Hydrate got even more tankers of water sent to the drought-stricken area of Senekal.

The NGO, together with corporate companies, is aiming to deliver more than 1,5 million litres of drinking water to areas which have been hardest hit.

Each tanker has the capacity for 10,000 litres.

Shoprite donated 29920 litres of water to Senekal this morning. https://t.co/5Xa4jGXv9S #OperationHydrate @HydrateSA pic.twitter.com/teEB2dDkUd

#OperationHydrate in Senekal today pic.twitter.com/uBQ8MmfGTi

The NGO's Yaseen Theba said the scenes of desperation are heartbreaking.

"We met a 76-year-old lady. She came with a walking stick and she got to the point where we were distributing. I was quite shocked as I couldn't understand why she was walking all the way. She told me if she did not walk, she would not have any water. She could not remember when last she had drinking water."

The NGO said some communities in the Free State have resorted to drinking sewerage water.

It said the situation on the ground is distressing as people and communities are desperate for drinking water.

"We're getting reports of people drinking sewage water. We had reports last week of a person that was stabbed because a fight broke out while people were collecting water," Theba said.

There have also been calls for national and provincial government to help communities who have little or no water.

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