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Drought relief in rural KwaZulu-Natal

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conference contribution
posted on 12.02.2018, 15:08 by S.W. Gillham
South Africa is a water scarce country which is periodically afflicted by severe and prolonged meteorological droughts. No area is immune, and includes the province of KwaZulu-Natal which receives about twice as much rainfall as the other provinces in South Africa, and has about 40 per cent of the country’s rainfall runoff. A prolonged period of below average rainfall in the late 1980’s had a cumulative effect on the country’s water resources and when the seasonal rainfall for 1992-93 was the second consecutive year of rainfall below 75 per cent (Calow et al, 1996), the impact was devastating. Most of the areas worst affected had large rural populations. This drought exacerbated an already existing problem of inadequate water supplies. The response to this crisis was for a group of government and non-government organisations to jointly launch a drought relief programme in all affected areas. This programme was terminated in December 1993 with the onset of good rains at the start of the 1993-94 wet season. In retrospect, it was terminated prematurely as the rains ended early and many areas remained in a water-stressed situation. A second drought relief programme, organised and executed primarily by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), was initiated in the northern part of the country in September 1994 and with continuing poor rainfall at the start of the 1994-95 wet season, in KwaZulu-Natal in January 1995. The procedures used in conducting the drought relief exercise differed slightly throughout the country according to circumstance. This paper discusses the methodology applied to the province of KwaZulu-Natal, particularly to the Zululand region in the north.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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GILLHAM, S.W., 1997. Drought relief in rural KwaZulu-Natal. IN: Pickford, J. et al. (eds). Water and sanitation for all - Partnerships and innovations: Proceedings of the 23rd WEDC International Conference, Durban, South Africa, 1-5 September 1997, pp.415-417.


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