Government, working in collaboration with other stakeholders, is executing its role in the provision of humanitarian relief in KwaZulu-Natal.
To date, there are 98 shelters where over 8 400 people are housed in community halls, religious facilities, and other temporary structures.
This comes after Cabinet declared a National State of Disaster in response to floods, which have wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape.
Speaking during the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster media briefing on Thursday, Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, said that the majority of the people housed in shelters are women to the total of 4700, children under ten years totalling 1700, older persons to the total of 1000 with 217 people with disabilities.
“Working with the province and local municipalities, where shelters are identified, Department of Social Development (DSD) teams have been providing cooked meals, blankets and dignity packs working with NPOs, Churches, Corporates and Committee Members to displaced individuals,” he said.
Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs) have also been providing this support on a daily basis with specific focus on children who have been displaced from schools and those who have lost family members or belongings.
“A comprehensive assessment of each community, household and individuals were conducted and all affected were provided with much needed counselling, de-briefing, water, food, matresses, blankets and some families were re-integrated.
“Those that lost their loved ones were also provided funeral arrangements and continuous counselling. All individuals and families that were affected were reached for these services,” he explained.
Meanwhile, social workers have reached over 15 983 individuals in this regard, and these services are ongoing.
A total of 2 713 people have been affected in Eastern Cape in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts.
The minister said that assistance in the form of social relief of distress is being provided to the affected families.
Women, Youth and Persons With Disabilities
Minister Phaahla said that Women, youth and persons with disabilities as particularly vulnerable groups will be most impacted by shortages, in their homes and in their businesses.
He said that the Department Women, youth and persons with disabilities is facilitating the rollout of Women’s Economic Assembly (WECONA) to provinces.
“KZN is a priority. WECONA Executive is developing a programme of action in an effort to enlist assistance to women and children who are victims of the floods,” he said.
He said that a donation of shipping containers has been secured from Transnet and they will work with the Solidarity Fund and National Empowerment Fund on how best to allocate them to cater to women and children in need of shelter services.
He said that issues of school infrastructure also come to the fore with respect to water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
“This situation is exacerbated by the floods in terms of access to water, sanitation and pads.
“We are also going to contribute sanitary pads to KZN to assist flood victims. Plans are advanced in terms of ensuring that the donation reaches displaced and deserving women and girls affected by the floods, working closely with the department of social development to ensure effective distribution in this regard.”
He said that a distribution mechanism will be put in place to ensure women in need get access to these personal hygiene products.
“As the department, through the Office of the Premier in KZN, we will be monitoring accessibility of services to women who have been displaced, and facilitate interventions where there are needs identified.
“We will also monitor the safety of women and girls at shelters for displaced persons to ensure incidents of GBVF are prevented,” he said.
A total of 66 health facilities were affected by the heavy downpours resulting in mainly roof leaks and flooding.
The breakdown of affected facilities per district is as follows: eThekwini 24, Ugu 15, uMgungundlovu, 9, iLembe 8 and King Cetshwayo 2.
“There has been minimal disruption to health care services in the most affected districts. The cost estimate for the repairs is in the region of R185 million. These assessments are subject to revisions,” Minister Phaahla said.
Healthcare services continue to be rendered to displaced communities that are currently sheltered in community halls including ensuring the dispensing of chronic medication.
Water has been partially restored in some facilities but others are still supplied through water tankers.
“Water supply has been restored in Gamalakhe CHC, St Andrews CHC, Ekuhlengeni CHC and 10% in GJ Crookes Hospital.
“Water is still being supplied to the following facilities with reservoirs: Wentworth Hospital, Prince Mhiyeni Memorial Hospital, Osindisweni Hospital and Park Rynie.”
He said that there is a challenge at Prince Mshiyeni where the reservoirs cannot be filled due to incompatible coupling between tanker and reservoir. The challenges are currently being addressed.
He said that the Ugu District is not exempt from load shedding, which is affecting water supply.
The Minister announced that 363 post-mortems have been conducted to date.
“An additional seven sessional pathologists were brought in to expedite the post-mortems. All deaths because of the heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding are determined to be unnatural. As such, in terms of the law, there is a legal obligation as government to conduct these post-mortems,” he said.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, together with the National Department of Health, continue to monitor the situation and are addressing the challenges accordingly.
Minister Phaahla who led the briefing, was accompanied by Ministers of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga and Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu who have visited the areas affected by floods in the past few days. –SAnews.gov.za