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.