For The People

Drought in Northern Cape

The Northern Cape is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than a century, with the magnitude of this drought affecting all five of the Northern Cape’s districts.

Currently almost 10 000 farms with a carrying capacity of 166 000 large stock units, covering more than 5.8 million hectares have experienced prolonged drought. According to the drought report, this is estimated to escalate to 1 million large stock units if normal rainfall is not reached during the coming winter and summer rain seasons.

In July, Shoprite group delivered five trucks of fodder to areas in the Northern Cape where the drought conditions are killing livestock and threatening the livelihoods of farmers and farmworkers.

Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman of Gift of the Givers said it had been a period of great distress for many farmers and animals in the Northern Cape for several months.

He said farmers were at their wits’ end and unable to provide for their animals, and by extension, their families, “They are totally helpless and losing hope rapidly. The animals are in desperate need of fodder. The drought has destroyed all vegetation”.

Kobus Cornelia, a farmer in Springbok says farmers in the area are in debt and cannot secure loans to buy feed to keep their animals alive. He goes on to explain the effect it is having on their children.

“Farmers are so indebted that they cannot secure loans to buy feed to keep their animals alive. More and more farm workers are at risk of losing their jobs. Businesses, like abattoirs, are battling to keep their doors open and are downscaling working days from five-day weeks to four day weeks. Farming communities are bearing the brunt of the drought, as children are being taken out of school because their parents cannot afford transport costs, while the sick are foregoing health care because they cannot afford to get to the nearest clinic”.

Water storage in the Northern Cape Province is currently at 109.5 million cubic meters, a decline from  84% of the full storage capacity of 146.3 million  cubic meters.

The water level of the Karee Dam in the Northern Cape, which serves Calvinia, is currently at 16.3% – a clear indication of the severity of the drought in the Northern Cape.

The Douglas Storage Weir in the Vaal River is currently overflowing at 17.593 million cubic meters or 108.3%. The full supply capacity of the weir is 16.245 million meters. Boegoeberg Dam in the Orange River is at a low of 0.132 million cubic meters or 0.6%, with Spitskop Dam in the Harts River at 46.999 million meters or 81.3%.

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