Disaster Relief: National Context

  • The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) within the Department of Cooperative Governance is responsible for the disbursement of funds for emergency repairs to infrastructure for basic services, the provision of temporary infrastructure, humanitarian relief, and other immediate essential services after a classified state of disaster. Following a R1.2 billion allocation for drought relief in 2018/19, spending on the NDMC will decrease at an average annual rate of 31% – from R2 billion in 2018/19, to R636 million in 2021/22.

  • While the Western Cape recorded above 80% dam levels thanks to heavy winter rains, managing to end the most severe drought that the region had experienced in a century, the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape remain drought-stricken.

  • Cyclone Idai devastated the southern African regions of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March 2019, killing at least a thousand people and causing damages estimated at US$2 billion.

Guidelines for Effective Funding in Disaster Relief

  • Corporates should set aside budget and clarify decision-making processes so that they can respond to disasters quickly and effectively.
  • Most disaster relief funding goes towards attending to the immediate needs of those affected by disasters. While this is essential, funders should consider the long-term impact of disasters. Funds can be put aside for reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes following a disaster.
  • Although efforts are made to deal with disasters once they have occurred, less emphasis is placed on preventive strategies aimed at saving lives and protecting assets before they are lost. Programmes that prevent or minimise damage, and therefore save costs, may be the best investment.

National Directives for Disaster Relief

A Policy Framework for Disaster Risk Management in South Africa, 2005
This is the legal instrument specified by the Disaster Management Act, 2002, to address the need for
consistency across multiple interest groups, by providing a coherent, transparent and inclusive policy on
disaster management. It recognises the numerous opportunities to avoid and reduce disaster losses through
the concerted efforts of all relevant stakeholders (i.e. government, civil society and the private sector).
Drought Management Plan, 2005
This document aimed to develop an effective and integrated risk and disaster management system to
minimise the impacts of drought, by setting up a system for information management, implementing
and improving early warning systems, and establishing priority programmes for risk reduction. This was,
however, a discussion document released for public comment, which has not been updated.
Integrated National Forest Protection Strategy, 2015
This strategy looks at possible ways of safeguarding South Africa’s forests. Strategic goals include
educating communities about fire; ensuring efficient prevention and mitigation measures; improving
capacity development and cooperation with various stakeholders at regional and national level; ensuring
speedy rehabilitation and restoration of timber plantations; controlling and managing fire outbreaks
efficiently and effectively; and assessing the impact of fires and fire risks.