After the terrible floods that hit the country’s east coast, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of national disaster on the evening of Monday 18 April. This “humanitarian disaster” has already left some 443 people dead and almost 40,000 homeless, according to the latest figures.
“The cabinet met in a special session last night and decided to declare a state of national disaster,” the head of state said in a televised address. For example, Cyril Ramaphosa refers to “a humanitarian disaster”. To express his compassion, he added: “Tonight we are a nation united in mourning.
According to the local authorities, almost 80% of the drinking water network is out of order and some areas of the region are without electricity. To assist the overwhelmed relief effort, the South African military will deploy 10,000 troops to the region and provide air support to deliver goods, including water purification systems and tents for the affected people.
Heavy rains for a week led to deadly floods and landslides. Most of the casualties were recorded in the area of the port city of 3.9 million people in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), open to the Indian Ocean. Some 48 people are still missing, according to the latest figures.
Severe water and electricity shortages
According to the National Meteorological Institute, no further flooding is expected in the next few days. But thousands of people lost everything in the collapse of their homes, while entire families were decimated.
What is worse is that some areas have been without water and electricity since Monday. For the provision of drinking water, tankers are trying to deliver drinking water, but roads and bridges are still cut off. Homeless people undertook to clear the roads in exchange for a few coins from the few motorists. The local authorities have warned that the 80% of the drinking water network that is out of order will take time to be restored.
Great damage and means to be deployed
From this extreme weather event, the authorities expect hundreds of millions of euros of damage. A first estimate for the repair of the road infrastructure alone amounts to nearly 354 million euros or 5.6 billion rand.
Indeed, the government had already announced last week the release of an emergency fund of 63 million euros (one billion rand) for the region which has already experienced massive destruction in July during a wave of riots and looting.
At least 270,000 students were unable to return to school after the long weekend. More than 600 schools were affected, nearly 4,000 houses destroyed and more than 13,500 damaged. Some 40,000 people had to leave their homes. Across the region, food vouchers, school uniforms and blankets continue to be distributed. And donations continue to be collected. It was an Easter weekend like no other.