Free State drought officially declared a disaster

A state of disaster was declared in five district municipalities in the Free State by the province’s premier Ace Magashule following the past year’s drought.

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They are the Mangaung, Fezile Dhabi, Xhariep, Thabo Mofutsanyana and Lejweleputswa municipalities, according to the Provincial Gazette of 4 September.

The drought stakeholder committee convened by the premier was looking at various mitigation programmes and how these needed to be monitored, according to a statement issued by Magashule’s office.

It was claimed in the statement that the effect of the drought could be mitigated by saving water and additional water conservation measures were being put in operation in the province.

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“Failure to adhere to these will have dire consequences to households, crops, livestock and the business sector,” said Magashule.

Nelius Ferreira, Free State Red Meat Producers’ vice chairman,welcomed Magashule’s announcement and said the intended drought relief from the provincial government would play an important role to alleviate the plight of the drought stricken farmers in the province.

“I nevertheless call on the authorities to make sure that the support reaches the farmers timeously. Many of them have not had any significant rains for the past eight months or so and find themselves in dire straits,” he said.