Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The government said on Wednesday that the national state of disaster it declared in March over a drought that has ravaged parts of the country, had lapsed after significant rainfall.

The three-year drought hit Cape Town particularly hard, threatening to leave residents of the city without drinking water.

The government said it had conducted assessments that showed that the severe phase of the drought that affected agricultural production in a number of provinces was over.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize "confirmed that a national state of disaster that was declared on March 13 2018 has lapsed".

More than R400m was mobilised from various disaster grants to implement relief operations in an attempt to avoid turning taps off under a so-called "day zero" scenario and provide water to all regions. The drought has affected water-intensive companies, such as wine makers, who make up 11% of the southwestern region’s economic output and sustain 300,000 jobs.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, output from Africa’s top wine producer is set to slump more than 20% this year.

In recent weeks, the Cape region, which typically receives rainfall between May and August, has experienced significant rains. The Cape Town municipality said the water level in dams had risen to almost 32% from about 21% this time in 2017.

However the city — battling its worst drought in 100 years — has called on the population to continue conserving water "given the uncertainty of rainfall".

"We have to make sure that we adhere to our goals and restrictions" — namely a daily consumption of 50 litres per person, the municipality said. By comparison, a single toilet flush uses nine litres of water and a one-minute-long shower uses 10 litres.

AFP

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