Devastating natural disasters suggest KZN needs to take fresh look at climate change

Bandile and Asanda Xulu outside their grandmother's home in eMpolweni, near Pietermaritzburg, which collapsed after being hit by a tornado in November.
Bandile and Asanda Xulu outside their grandmother's home in eMpolweni, near Pietermaritzburg, which collapsed after being hit by a tornado in November.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Natural disasters in KwaZulu-Natal have caused more than R3bn in damage in the past nine months alone, premier Sihle Zikalala said on Tuesday.

“It is concerning that the incidents that took place between April 2019 and February 2020 have claimed more than 150 lives and incurred damage of more than R3bn. The vulnerability of this province to climate change warrants a fresh look and a new, more vigorous response,” Zikalala said.

Zikalala was laying out priorities for the provincial government during a cabinet lekgotla ahead of the state of the province address (Sopa) early next week.

“Many of our communities have recently been battered by storms and natural disasters of all kinds,” he said.

Recently, the provincial government announced plans to have the province classified as a disaster area following a provincial government cabinet meeting.

Disasters that have ravaged the province included a tornado, hail, excessive lightning and strong winds.

“The provincial executive council has therefore resolved to initiate a process of classifying and declaring a provincial state of disaster. This will then commence the process to harness more resources from national government to rehabilitate and reconstruct the damage that has occurred,” Zikalala said.

Other priorities on the lekgotla agenda include access to water, crime and corruption, gender-based violence and femicide, youth unemployment and university unrest.

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