The South African government on Friday warned of a worsening drought whose severity is impacting negatively on the country in both social and economic terms.
Owing to the drought, the country’s current state of water storage is estimated at 64.3 per cent of its normal full supply compared with 74.6 percent storage level at the same time last year, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan said at a briefing in Pretoria.
Gordhan was former Finance Minister of the country.
“Generally there is a downward trend, which is indicative of a hydrological and meteorological drought,” he said.
The ongoing unusual heatwave has increased evaporation rates significantly, one of the reasons for the fall off in the storage capacity levels.
South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria, recorded their hottest day ever on Tuesday as a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon drains water supplies.
Four provinces have been declared disaster areas and several metropolitan municipalities have already announced water restrictions in order to curb the increased demand and over-usage of water by households and industries in recent months, in their efforts to deal with the impact of the heat wave.
The remaining provinces that have not yet declared drought disaster have been struggling in the last 24 months to deal with the negative effects of drought, said Gordhan, who is leading the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) responsible for the drought.
The El Nino phenomenon is expected to continue at least until March 2016, which means that the current hot and dry conditions are likely to persist for the next six months. The current El Nino is perhaps the worst in history.
The government’s key focus is on continuing to work with provinces and all stakeholders to mitigate the impact of drought on households in both urban and rural communities, Gordhan said.