Social Development battles overcrowding in KZN disaster centres

More than 80 shelters in KwaZulu-Natal are still open for flood victims but only 55 of them are linked to land parcels, according to the Department of Social Development.

Briefing the ad hoc joint committee on government flood disaster relief efforts on Thursday, the department noted overcrowding as a concern, stating that the 88 centres that remain open have taken up to 3 832 households while over 1 314 other households have been decanted. Forty-three centres have been closed.

The department said keeping the centres open poses a challenge as many people who are not the victims of floods have invaded the shelters, noting that this has a negative bearing on funding.

Acknowledging the donors who have chipped in, the department said 898 blankets, 888 mattresses and 676 dignity packs have been donated to the people housed in the shelters and “serviced about 72 shelters overall to a quantum of about R8.4-million”.

Over 9 520 social relief of distress vouchers has been distributed to the tune of R16.5-million. According to the department, the victims get a R1 980 voucher per person. In addition, the donors have provided hot meals to over 4 045 households.

It added that some of the victims also assisted 325 households with burial support and 1 231 school uniforms to the tune of R3.2-million.

“Donors, provincial and local government continue with these services,” it said.

The identity issues are some of the problems still faced by the department as it tries to bring relief to the flood victims, it said, noting that another challenge lies in the “uncertainty with the length of stay of people at the shelters [exit plan] which affects the limited resources available [funding and social workers having to return to their posts]”.

“Shelters pose a threat for increasing GBV [gender-based violence], teenage pregnancy, rape, transmission of Covid-19 and other social ills, as well as rebuilding within the context of socio-economic development for economic wellbeing and sustainability.”

Meanwhile, the North West and Eastern Cape shelters have been decanted and the affected people reintegrated back into society.

In April, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, and Eastern Cape experienced natural disasters that led to the deaths of more than 450 people in KwaZulu-Natal alone. The affected areas included eThekwini, KwaDukuza, Msunduzi, and the Ugu municipality.

The province initially recorded over 8 400 people in shelters in April, however, an estimated 28% of the people have left the shelters over the past few months.

The department said there is no clarity on when the centres will be closed, but “the city and the province have projected December 2022”.

Also read: ‘Eastern Cape floods only tip of the iceberg’

KwaZulu-Natal flood victims growing increasingly desperate

MaMkhize, eThekwini municipality donate houses to floods’ victims

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Nompilo Zulu

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