South Africa

Storm Freddy looms as treasury acknowledges disaster management inefficiencies

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) is warning that an overland depression that ripped through Madagascar, killing four people, may affect parts of North-East South Africa this weekend. 

Tropical cyclone “Freddy” made landfall in Madagascar on Tuesday evening with winds of 150km/h and gusts of up to 180km/h. 

‘Freddy’ was downgraded to an overland depression as it weakened due to the rugged terrain it passed over.

The storm may regain near-tropical-storm status before it is expected to make landfall in Southern Mozambique on Friday morning.

SAWS expects ‘Freddy’ to affect North-Eastern parts of South Africa from early Saturday until Monday.

Source: South African Weather Service

“Very heavy rainfall in the order of 200 to 400 mm is possible, and this may result in widespread significant flooding. The districts in question are Vhembe and Mopani in Limpopo, and to a slightly lesser extent, Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga,” the SAWS said. 

Source: South African Weather Service

Significant flooding in the Lowveld and escarpment areas, such as the Kruger National park, in the last few weeks means that ‘Freddy’ threatens “prolonged and severe impacts”.

“Although not as much rain is expected over other places in the north-eastern parts, residents of Capricorn (Limpopo), as well as Umkhanyakude, Zululand and Amajuba (KwaZulu-Natal) are urged to be extra vigilant as the situation may be exacerbated by the recent flooding events in these places.”

Disaster relief funding

The 2023 budget released yesterday stated that there are “inefficiencies in disaster response and an overreliance on post-event allocations” in the country.

It highlighted the need to develop a national disaster risk financing policy.

Redesigning disaster financing can reduce fiscal costs by R100 million on average per shock event and R7.5 billion in the case of large shock events, citing a Treasury and World Bank study. 

Further announcements will be made in the medium-term budget statement.

Godongwana said in the budget speech that R695 million had been made available for immediate relief to the flood disaster, and R1 billion will be available next year.

“The emergency response also requires provinces and municipalities to reprioritise existing allocations to cater for the immediate needs of affected communities, such as temporary shelter and social assistance,” he said.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) said that they support the extra allocation of funds for disaster response.

“Last year’s devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal highlighted how inadequate state infrastructure and disaster response processes were, and attention also needs to be paid to these areas,” reads a BLSA statement.

They said that developing climate-resilient infrastructure will be increasingly important in time.

Lerato Bacela, Financial Director at Old Mutual Insure, also said that the government’s decision to put measures in place to respond to severe weather events is welcome. 

She said that climate change would increase the incidence of floods and hailstorms that affect the short-term insurance industry. 

“Government’s plans around disaster response services will hopefully mean that the damage we see from these events will reduce or be contained in certain areas,” said Bacela.


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