South Africa declares state of national disaster over floods

ByJerry Omondi

A man looks on from a squatter camp on the edge of the Jukskei river by Alexandra township after heavy rainfall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. /CFP

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster over the current floods that have hit parts of the country.

According to media reports, seven of the country’s nine provinces are struggling to contain the devastating impacts of floods following days of heavy rainfall.

In a statement on Tuesday, the presidency said these conditions have been brought on by the La Niña global weather phenomenon which occurs in the Pacific Ocean but impacts a country like South Africa with above-normal rainfall.

Forecasts indicate this weather pattern will remain in this state during the early part of 2023.

Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape provinces as the most affected by the floods.

“The National Disaster Management Centre has received reports ranging from flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams and sewerage facilities, to the loss of basic infrastructure and damage to roads, bridges and a Limpopo hospital,” the presidency’s statement said.

“In agriculture, farmers have suffered crop and livestock losses, and anticipate further losses as the South African Weather Service (SAWS) predicts that current heavy rains will persist,” it added.

South Africa also declared a national state of disaster in April 2022 to respond to floods that had wreaked havoc in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

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