Category: Disaster Management

Garden Route DM sponsors R100 000 to 2018 Fire Management Symposium – full report

Dignitaries from Government departments, local government, forestry companies, media houses, academic and research institutions, as well as landowners, attended the 2018 Fire Management Symposium at the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela University from 3 to 5 October 2018.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen (right), and former Principal of the Nelson Mandela University in George, Prof. Quinton Johnson (left), addressed the delegates at the gala evening on 4 October 2018.

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) sponsored an amount of R100 000 towards this event which attracted more than 200 delegates, both locally as well as abroad.

Acting Speaker of Garden Route DM, during his welcoming speech spoke about the initiatives implemented by the Garden Route DM, since the June 2017 fires destroyed many parts of the Garden Route.

In officially opening the event on 3 October 2018, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General for Forestry and Natural Resource Management, acknowledged that only by sharing the scarce resources across public & private sectors, we would be able to give effect to integrated veldt fire management (IFM). She pleaded that continuous efforts by all role players are needed to improve IFM. Ms Nodada also acknowledged the services currently rendered by institutions like Working on Fire and other organisations and highlighted: “These programmes are still contributing greatly to building the concept of integrated fire management”.

Speakers who addressed the delegates on the first day of the event, are from left: Dr Christo Marais, Chief Director at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Roger Godsmark, Operations Director of Forestry South Africa, Mr Paul Buchholz, Project Manager of the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative, Dr Jaap Steenkamp, Director of Forestry and Allied Manufacturing, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, Mr Malcolm Procter, Deputy Director of Regulation and Oversight at DAFF, Mr Leo Long, Senior Practitioner for Training and Skills Development at SAFCOL, Mr Axel Jooste, Projects Manager at SAPPI Forestry, Mr John-John Emary from Volunteer Wildfire Services, as well as Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre.

Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), shared with the delegates that South Africa experiences increasing levels of disaster risks which exposes us to a wide range of weather hazards. “The interplay of these hazards point to the need for an integrated approach and sustainable mechanisms in the management of the risks it poses,” Dr Mmapahaka added.

By using the eco-systems approach, Dr Mmapahaka said: “We must surely by now understand the threat of invasive alien species” and acknowledges that there is a need to prioritise the clearing of these species, as it affects our water security as well”.

Panel discussions throughout the events, allowed delegates to pose questions to the speakers. The first panel consisted of Mr Gerhard Otto, Manager of Disaster Management at Garden Route District Municipality, Ms Pumeza Nodada, Acting Deputy Director-General: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, Ms Pumeza Nodada, and Deputy Director-General (Head) of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau.

Cllr Barend Groenewald, Acting Speaker of GRDM, during his address, on behalf of the GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, emphasised the following: “It is a known fact that all communities are vulnerable to the impact of various types of disasters, especially those who are not as fortunate as others. Many members of society still barely have enough to fulfil their basic human needs.  As decision-makers and administrators who render services to communities, we have to recognise the diversity of our communities, adjust to the challenges of a dynamic environment and most importantly manage situations to the best of our ability with due consideration of scarce resources at our disposal”.

Officials from the Garden Route District Municipality who were present at the symposium, were: Executive Manager of Community Services, Mr Clive Africa, Acting Speaker, Cllr Barend Groenewald, Manager of Disaster Management, Mr Gerhard Otto and the Garden Route DM George Fire Station Officer, Mr Deon Stoffels.

Mr Paul Buchholz, Project Manager of the Environmental work stream of the former Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), elaborated on the activities performed soon after the outbreak of the June 2017 fires in the Garden Route and how these activities were maintained. Efforts ensured successful outcomes to prevent further damage to affected areas, e.g. one such activity was the installation of 34 kilometres of fire sausages (soil erosion prevention booms) at the most damaged and affected areas to ensure that sediment does not flow down from higher geographical areas.  Mr Buchholz acknowledged that this could not have been successfully implemented without the assistance of geographic information systems (GIS) to analyse the high-risk areas. A drone was also used to spot the most affected areas in order to prioritise and guide intervention initiatives.

The event was well-attended by representatives from forestry companies, government departments, including the National Disaster Management Centre, municipal authorities, media houses, private and public conservation bodies, academic and research institutions, as well as private and public landowners and land-managers.

The involvement of communities was also high on the agenda, when various role-players acknowledged that decisions cannot be taken without community inputs.  “We need to include our communities in decision-making processes; we need to have value in the protection of assets e.g. trees, infrastructure etc,” Mr Mr Leo Long, Senior Practitioner for Training and Skills Development at South African Forestry Companies Limited (SAFCOL) said.  “An inclusive evacuation plan needs to be developed and communicated. Identify, communicate and maintain safe areas of which in where the community can actively take part in,” Mr Long highlighted.

Prof. Ed Kirtley, Assistant Dean at the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology from the Oklahoma State University, also acknowledged the importance of community involvement. Through his presentation which was live-streamed at the event, he advised that formal  and informal leaders need to be engaged with as soon as possible after an event and said: “Authentically engage with the community in decision making, debate conflicting ideas, act, decide and move forward’’ and added that these relationships must be maintained.

Mr Axel Jooste from SAPPI Forestry presented “A Case of Factory Blindness” when he made an example of the case study of the Apollo 1 space mission fire that killed three astronauts of which the accident inquest was the “failure of imagination”.  Mr Jooste posed a question to the audience: “Are we also guilty of oversight: missing, overlooking, lack of imagination, blindness and blind spots?”.

The first day’s event followed by two more days of active participation and a gala evening which the Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, and former Principal of the Nelson Mandela University in George, Prof. Quinton Johnson, also attended.  At the gala evening, these dignitaries addressed the audience about the issue of the expropriation of land which left many delegates with something important to think about.

Garden Route District Municipality sponsors R100 000 to the 2018 Fire Management Symposium

Dignitaries from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) currently represent the Municipality at the 2018 Fire Management Symposium hosted by the Nelson Mandela University in George.

GRDM sponsored an amount of R100 000 towards the initiative.

The three-day programme was officially opened on 3 October 2018, followed by a field trip the next day through the areas mostly affected by the June 2017 fires in the Knysna and Bitou municipal areas.

The programme will be concluded on 5 October 2018.

Severe Weather Alert (7-8 September 2018)

Level 5 Warning for RAIN for 7-8 September 2018.
The main areas to be affected will be:
  • Mossel Bay (LM)
  • George (LM)
  • Knysna (LM); and
  • Bitou (LM)
Please note that the YELLOW Level 3 Warning for RAIN issued yesterday remains in place for Hessequa Municipality for 7-8 September.
The Garden Route Disaster Management Centre in collaboration with the South African Weather Service will be monitoring the progress of this storm, please activate your local severe weather contingency arrangements and keep the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre updated of any severe weather-related incidents.
For emergencies contact 044 805 5071

Severe Weather Alert (7-8 September 2018)

Significant rainfall and intense downpours are expected on Friday, 7 September 2018, where flooding may be a risk. Thunderstorms are also possible. At this point, rainfall amounts expected 20-40mm along the South Coast (Riversdale to Plettenberg bay) and 50mm in the mountains. Also to note is that light rain is expected from Wednesday through to Saturday morning along the South Coast, which will act to saturate the ground.

Less snowfall expected, compared to the initial assessments done on Monday.  Although snowfalls still very likely for both Thursday and Friday over the Langeberge, Swartberge and Nuweveld berge, the snowfall will be lighter for the Outeniqua mountains than initially expected. Very cold weather will be persisting from today through to the weekend though.

However, please note that the models have not been consistent over the last few days in terms of amounts and locations, and thus the SAWS will monitor further.

Rampbestuur en Brandweer afdelings besoek Van Der Hoven Laerskool

“100 Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” vieringe

Eden Distriksmunisipaliteit (Eden DM) se Rampbestuur en Brandweer afdelings het die Van Der Hoven Laerskool besoek. Die skool bestaan uit 4 onderwysers, ‘n sekretaresse en 75 leerders tot en met Graad 5.

Mnr Gerhard Otto van Eden DM het die verskillende afdelings aan die personeel en leerders voorgestel. Tydens die aktiwiteite het me Gail Bekeer noodhulpwenke aan die kinders verduidelik en me Tippie Bouwer het noodnommers aan die leerders verskaf. Brandweerpersoneel het ‘n skuim demonstrasie gedoen en die kinders hul ‘bunker’ pakke laat aantrek. Ter afsluiting, is kerrie en rys aan die leerders bedien, waarna ‘goodie bags’ en sakke vol klere aan almal oorhandig is.

Die skoolhoof, me Anita Oosthuizen, het die Eden span hartlik bedank vir die gebaar.

Declaring a Local Disaster

The Eden DM Disaster Management Centre has been the cornerstone of sourcing funding for B-Municipalities in the region when disaster-related incidents are foreseen or after it occurred. Local Government (Local Municipalities and the District), the appropriate Provincial Departments, and National Government consider the declaration of a disaster which is required by the Disaster Management Act (Act 57 of 2002) as amended.

The Disaster Management Act makes provision for the declaration of a local disaster.  Although not a prerequisite, the declaration of a disaster could assist access to a Central Contingency Fund, as well as to allow the applicable National / Provincial and Municipal budgets to be supplemented.

It is important to note that each disaster situation is unique. For example, during flash flooding, the government should undertake an immediate intervention to replace a water pipeline or sewerage main. This would mean that the process has to be fast-tracked, and work could commence within a couple of days.

For disasters like drought, which evolves over a few months, the approval process might take longer because the relevant municipality/sphere of government has to indicate if they would be able to deal with the effects of the disaster as part of their multi-year adjustment budgets. Any disaster declaration is valid for three months, but this could be extended on a month-to-month basis through a notice in the government gazette.

The process for declaring a local disaster is as follows:

1.    The Councils of both Local and District Municipalities should decide on whether or not to declare a local disaster.
2.    Once Councils have decided on a way forward, both council resolutions are provided to the Eden DM Disaster Management Centre (DMC), who will then request the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), for the declaration of a local disaster. This step takes one day to complete (after council resolutions were received).
3.    The next step would be that the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, through a Provincial Cabinet Resolution, recommend or not recommend the request for a local disaster declaration. This step can take up to two weeks to complete.
4.    After that, if the local disaster has been recommended, the National Disaster Management Centre will have to confirm the local disaster declaration through a classification process.  The outcome of this classification process will determine the declaration of a local disaster, which then has to be published in the provincial gazette. This step can take one day or several months if the NDMC decides to first do on-site assessments of the situation, but each scenario is different.
5.    Funding transfer from National Treasury. This process can take between 6 months to two years to complete. Municipalities do however have access to emergency grants which can be provided on request within two weeks (depending on the type of disaster).
6.    If the grant funding route is followed, project plans need to be submitted with each application (project).

Before the processes above are considered, it must be noted that a Municipality would be required to prove that they have exhausted their revenue as prescribed by the Disaster Management Framework.

Once it is considered to forward a request to the PDMC for classification of a local authority area as a local state of the disaster area, Council should consider if the guiding principles as set out in Section 56 of the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002, were followed i.e.

“were the consequences of the situation unforeseen and unavoidable, would it have been reasonable to expect that prevention and mitigation measures could have been taken to avoid the catastrophe?”

Disaster declarations do not only unlock Provincial disaster assistance but also National assistance both in the form of disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction funding. A shared service is provided in the form of assistant with the capacity to local municipalities in dealing with after-effects of disasters or risk of disasters that could occur.

Below is an outline of what the Eden DM DMC has done in assisting local municipalities with disaster declarations in the district. To date, the monetary value received over the last two years exceed R27 000 000.

Current emergency disaster grant applications which have been submitted to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) for submission to National Treasury, include: • The R52 mil Knysna drought assistance request is still pending at the NDMC;

  • The R144 mil disaster grant assistance required for both Knysna- and Bitou Local Municipalities following the disastrous fires in June 2017.