South Africa floods a national disaster, says President Ramaphosa

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People dig for persons believed to be trapped at a house in Bonela township collapsed following heavy rains and winds in Durban, on April 12, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening declared a national state of disaster to provide relief to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape which had been extensively damaged by floods.

The extreme weather and floods have claimed 443 lives and caused severe damage to homes and infrastructure. Nearly 4000 homes have been destroyed in KwaZulu-Natal and more than 40000 people displaced by the floods.

President Ramaphosa said the national state of disaster for the KZN floods would be gazetted shortly to ensure an “effective response across all spheres of government.”

“This is a humanitarian disaster that calls for a massive and urgent relief effort,” said the South African leader.

The economic cost of the heavy rains of the last week will run into billions of rand, according to government. The rains have caused extensive damage to houses, businesses, roads, bridges and water, electricity, rail and telecommunications infrastructure. The flooding has also disrupted fuel and food supplies. 

“We will be responding to this disaster in three phases. First, we will focus on immediate humanitarian relief, ensuring that all affected persons are safe and that their basic needs are met.

“Second, we will focus on stabilisation and recovery, rehousing people who have lost homes and restoring provision of services. Third, we will focus on reconstruction and rebuilding,” explained Ramaphosa.

The final phase will not only involve the construction and repair of major infrastructure in KZN, but it will also involve the construction of houses in suitably-located areas and measures to protect the residents of these areas from such adverse weather events in the future.

“I have met with the leadership of the Solidarity Fund to ask that it makes its capacity available to confront this dire emergency. The Board has agreed to assist with humanitarian and other forms of relief in partnership with government, the private sector and various other non-governmental and community-based organisations,” said the president. 

Culled from: TheEastAfrican

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