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The government has failed to respond to the country’s national drought appropriately and the poor are bearing the burden of its dereliction.
“I don’t want to speak more about this poverty and drought because it turns me back to something. It makes want to blame my government‚ which is not good.”
These are the words of David Baloyi‚ an emerging Limpopo farmer‚ who feels let down by government in the wake of the country’s El Nino induced drought.
The voices of Baloyi and his colleagues are among those presented in a drought report by organisation Oxfam‚ released on Tuesday‚ titled A Harvest of Dysfunction: Rethinking the Approach to Drought‚ its Causes and Impacts in South Africa.
The report found that the voices of the poor‚ and particularly women‚ were absent from the drought narrative that dominated media reports and government statements.
“In 2016 we lost much in cash crops and livestock. We went to the Department [of Agriculture] for help and feeds‚ because 60% of our cattle died‚ but no help came.
“Now the rain has come but our cattle is recovering with disease. There’s no vet. We cannot manage to get a doctor from the Department‚ so we must pull out the little that we have.”
Neighbouring Baloyi in Limpopo is farmer Daniel Khosa‚ who said that the government’s drought interventions‚ such as the provision of cattle feed to farmers‚ were insufficient.
“We are the emerging poor farmers and we didn’t get anything from that. At the end‚ at grassroots‚ we are not receiving anything.”
The report found that a narrow definition of drought limited the range of necessary relief offered by the government to the poor.
Its researchers also found that leaders in government used religious language when they spoke of the crisis‚ asking for rain in prayer and describing rain as a blessing‚ which fuels the idea that the drought cannot be managed or prepared for.