Nairobi, 28 April 2022 - At least 443 people were killed and dozens more missing in the aftermath of KwaZulu-Natal heavy rains. An estimated 40,000 persons were displaced as their homes were swept away by floodwaters. Members of the International Land Coalition in South Africa are among those directly affected
The South African government has declared a national state of emergency to deal with the impact of heavy rainfall and flooding. On 11 and 12 April, between 200 and 400 mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period.
The disaster underlines the increasing hazards posed by intense rainfall in a changing climate, but also the need for spatial planning and safe residential land.
ILC Africa, a regional network bringing together about 95 member organizations working together to secure land rights across Africa, is calling on the government of South Africa to respond to what it called a “humanitarian disaster” by implementing land reform, with its provision for spatial planning and safe residential land for vulnerable residents. For ILC members in South Africa, the disaster points to spatial inequalities that date back to the Apartheid era. Laurel Oettle of LandNNES, the National Land Coalition in South Africa, stated:
“Government’s lack of spatial planning and the vast inequalities that remain from the Apartheid era mean that thousands of South Africa’s most vulnerable residents have nowhere to live. They are forced into unsafe land, and thus more vulnerable to extreme weather events.”
Briefing the media on government’s response last Tuesday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said: “Most of those whose homes have been washed away were in places where we shouldn’t send them back. So we had to identify permanent areas whilst they are in temporary areas.”
ILC Africa encourages the South African government to speed up its plan to make available suitably located land for relocation. ILC hopes that government’s long-term response to the crisis will include the implementation of land reform, of which spatial planning. ILC Africa maintains that land reform in Southern Africa will help reduce the effect of similar adverse weather on populations. Audace Kubwimana, Coordinator for ILC Africa said of the reform:
“We are appalled to learn that some of our members and their collaborators are directly affected. The implementation of the land reform, helped by the Country Assessment, and driven by functional local Municipalities will go a long way toward helping to reduce the impact of heavy rainfall and flooding in the region.”
The International Land Coalition Africa (ILC Africa), the Africa section of the International Land Coalition (ILC), a global alliance of over 300 civil society and intergovernmental organizations working together to promote secure and equitable access to and control over land.
Kevin Eze, ILC Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)