Premium Journalist
2 minute read
11 Mar 2018
12:08 pm

Sassa takes over Cape Town disaster relief assessment functions


City's MMC subtly questions whether social relief efforts may happen a little more slowly in future.

April 30 - The City of Cape Towns disaster risk management centre has provided humanitarian relief to thousands of residents affected by nearly 700 fires in the past six months. A FireWise public awareness project - a door-to-door campaign involving the distribution of calendars and pamphlets with tips on the prevention of fires and what to do when a fire occurred - was also held in dozens of communities. Photo: CoCT

The City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management centre (DRMC) is no longer co-ordinating humanitarian relief efforts for disasters such as fires and floods, because the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has decided to take over responsibility for activation of humanitarian relief and conduct the assessments itself, the city said on Sunday.

For many years, the DRMC conducted assessments in the wake of local disasters to determine the number of people affected and their specific needs. Once the assessment was completed, one of the city’s non-governmental (NGO) partners would be activated to provide relief, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services JP Smith said.

Cape Town was the only city in the country that had service level agreements with NGOs, such as the Mustadafin Foundation, Salvation Army, and Historically Disadvantaged Individual (HDI) who would provide relief, including food, blankets, and vanity packs to affected communities. Their claims for reimbursement were verified by the DRMC and submitted to Sassa for payment, he said.

During the last quarter of 2017, the DRMC facilitated relief for 4224 individuals affected by local disasters, including provision for 2989 meals, 819 food parcels, 3682 blankets, 652 mattresses, and 3365 adult and baby vanity packs.

“However, towards the end of 2017, Sassa reassessed its policies and procedures in funding service providers (NGOs) who provide social relief to disaster victims. Amid concerns that the payments to service providers could possibly be classified as irregular expenditure in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and Sassa’s supply chain management policies, the agency decided to take over responsibility for activation of humanitarian relief and conduct the assessments itself,” he said.

“Thus, the new procedure to activate social relief to disaster victims is that the city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre will notify Sassa of incidents where relief is required. Sassa will then assume responsibility for notifying the service provider of the request at hand and will also monitor the delivery of social relief to the disaster victims.

“The city will continue providing materials for affected residents to rebuild their homes where required and we will work closely with Sassa to ensure that notifications are received and responded to as soon as possible.

“However, where in the past social relief was typically activated within hours after a local disaster was reported, it remains to be seen how this change will affect timelines in future,” Smith said.