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'Below normal rainfall likely to delay drought relief'

Des van Rooyen says the long range forecast shows below normal rainfall, meaning ’little relief’ is expected.

FILE: Picture: freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - Co-Operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen says recovery from the crippling drought gripping most of the country is likely to be delayed because the long-term forecast predicts lower than normal rainfall for the spring season.

Van Rooyen chairs the inter-ministerial task team set up to deal with the impact of the drought.

He says dam levels across the country are at their lowest in years.



"When we briefed the country last year, the national dam levels were estimated at 64.3 percent of our normal full supply. Since then we've seen a drop in our storage quantity to the current 53 percent as of 5 September, 2016."

Van Rooyen also there's been a 15 percent decline in the national livestock herd as a result of the drought.

"The long range forecast shows a below normal expected rainfall, meaning little relief is expected in the coming months."

'SA DAM LEVELS AT THEIR LOWEST'

Dam levels across the country are at their lowest level in years, making water restrictions necessary in most provinces, according to the government's drought task team.

Van Rooyen says the country will remain in the grip of one of its worst-ever droughts for some time as spring rainfall is forecast to be lower than usual.

Van Rooyen has spelt out the steps government is taking to ease the impact of the drought on farmers and communities, including drilling boreholes and sending in water tankers.

Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana says food prices are being monitored.

"We meet on the hills of the winter season and now as spring is upon us scientists tell us there's no guarantee that they will be sufficient rain during the coming season."