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Sisulu calls for urgent government intervention in drought-hit EC

Minister Sisulu visited the province with her deputy David Mahlobo on Monday to assess the situation, which she said had deteriorated.

FILE: Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu said the severe drought in the Eastern Cape needed urgent government intervention.

Sisulu visited the province with her deputy David Mahlobo on Monday to assess the situation, which she said had deteriorated.

The two held meetings with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane to try find solutions to overcome the dire water shortages in the province.

Sisulu travelled to some of the areas worst hit by the drought in the province.

One such area is Butterworth, where Sisulu said the taps had literally run dry.

“The most affected areas are the ones in Butterworth. The water source is contaminated, and the water needs to be cleaned.”

Other towns that ran dry include Makhanda, as well as Peddie, which have been on “day zero” for months.

WHAT IS 'DAY ZERO'?

The term 'day zero' was introduced by the Democratic Alliance-run City of Cape Town in 2017 amid a water crisis and drought in the province.

The term was used by the city to describe the day that Cape Town would run out of water.

WATCH: Water Minister says South Africa is experiencing water stress

The government declared a national disaster over the drought-afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which meant the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.

Faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town had cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years. At the time, the city targeted a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million litres.

Hundreds of Cape Town residents were forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in the country's second-largest economic hub and tourist attraction.

Several desalination plants were planned and together with underground water reserves were expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Additional reporting by Reuters.