NEWS & ANALYSIS

SASSA takes over disaster relief assessments - Cape Town

JP Smith says it remains to be seen how this change will affect the previous rapid response times going forward

SASSA takes over disaster relief assessments

The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) is no longer coordinating humanitarian relief efforts for disasters like fires and floods.

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 partners would be activated to provide relief.

Cape Town was the only city in the country that had service level agreements with NGOs like 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 would be verified by the Disaster Risk Management Centre and submitted to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for payment.

During the last quarter of 2017, the Disaster Risk Management Centre facilitated relief for 4 224 individuals affected by local disasters. This included provision for:

- 2 989 meals

- 819 food parcels

- 3 682 blankets

- 652 mattresses

- 3 365 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.

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.

Statement issued by Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith, 11 March 2018