SA must spend more on climate adaptation, says Ramaphosa, as KZN floods become national disaster
South Africa needs to spend more money on climate adaptation in the face of climate change, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night.
He announced the declaration of a national state of emergency after floods in KwaZulu-Natal, with the expectation of more bad weather in the North West and Free State.
Some government relief funding will flow via the Solidarity Fund, Ramaphosa said, and a special structure is being set up to guard against corruption.
South Africa needs to spend more money preparing for bad weather, President Cyril Ramaphosa said, speaking to the nation about the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday night.
“These floods are a tragic reminder of the increasing frequency of extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change,” he said. “We need to increase our investment in climate adaptation measures to better safeguard communities against the effects of climate change.”
This added spending must come even as South Africa reduces its emissions, he said, as part of global efforts to mitigate the extent of climate change.
In the meanwhile, money spent on recovering from the current disaster must be spent wisely, and without fraud, he said.
Ramaphosa announced the elevation of the KwaZulu-Natal floods to the status of a national disaster – just days after it had been formally classified as a provincial disaster. That moves responsibility for co-ordination of the response to the disaster, including high-level decisions on how money should be spent, from the KZN provincial executive and into the hands of Ramaphosa’s cabinet.
“Given the extent and impact of the floods, the designation of a provincial state of disaster is inadequate to deal with the scale of the emergency, and the required reconstruction and rehabilitation measures, and responses,” he said, citing the importance of the Durban port to the national economy.
“With the heavy rains and flooding in the Eastern Cape, and indications from the South African weather service that the North West and Free State may also be affected by bad weather, it is clear that there are other areas of the country that need emergency intervention as well,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa spent a significant portion of his national address, of a type exceedingly rare outside of announcements on Covid-19, talking about measures to prevent corruption in the spending of disaster-relief funds.
Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.
South Africa’s efforts to address the effects of climate change on people and the economy in a manner which leaves no one behind, recently received a firm nod from Cabinet.
“It will be critical, as we undertake this work, that all the resources we mobilise are used for their intended purposes and reach the intended recipients,” he said.
“There can be no room for corruption. There can be no room for mismanagement or fraud of any sort.”
At least some government relief funding will flow via the Solidarity Fund set up to handle donations around Covid-19, Ramaphosa said. And an “oversight structure” will be set up to ensure that, with representatives from the office of the auditor general, business groups, religious organisations, as well as engineers and accountants.
“We are determined that there must be transparency and accountability as the projects are costed and implemented, as well as how resources are deployed, right from the beginning, not after the money has either been wasted or stolen,” Ramaphosa said.
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