Disaster relief

In South Africa, some regions have experienced severe drought recently, while other parts have had to contend with floods that have resulted in the displacement of communities and even loss of lives. The impact of natural disasters in the country is further intensified by the vulnerability of people living in informal, under-served, ecologically fragile or marginal areas and therefore face recurrent threats. Comprehensive, proactive and flexible engagement is required to enable effective disaster management. 

Overview of CSI

Disaster relief is a relatively newly measured sector in Trialogue’s research, which was supported by 17% of companies, when asked for the first time in 2015. This support grew to 23% in 2016. 

Guidelines for effective funding

  • Most disaster relief funding seems to go towards attending to the immediate needs of those affected by disasters. While this is essential, funders should consider the long-term impact of disasters. For instance, funds can be put aside for reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes following a disaster.
  • Disasters can have lasting adverse effects on communities. These effects may be best addressed through integrating and co-ordinating various efforts and activities aimed at disaster risk reduction. Funders can consider disaster risk management programmes that involve several spheres of government, NPOs, research institutions, private sector institutions and civil society.
  • Although efforts have been made to deal with disasters once they have occurred, less emphasis has been placed on preventive strategies aimed at saving lives and protecting assets before they are lost. Programmes that prevent or minimise damage, and therefore save costs, may be the best investment for funders.
  • Funders can consider supporting projects that detect disasters through early warning systems, to help pre-empt the consequences of disasters.
  • Successful programmes in this sector ensure that funding support is focused and co-ordinated. This makes it easier to take precautionary measures against disasters and effectively deal with disasters when they arise.
  • More funds should be directed towards research on disaster risk management, with a particular focus on disaster prevention measures.

Big picture figures

  • In 2015, the government declared the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Free State drought disaster areas, threatening food security in the country.
  • According to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, recent drought resulted in losses worth R16 billion across the agricultural sector. Government’s response to the drought crisis as at March 2016 amounted to over R1 billion.
  • To mitigate the effects of the drought on water users, the Department of Water and Sanitation reported spending over R500 million on emergency and short-term interventions in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape and Northern Cape.