Date of this Version
Drought policy in the Republic of South Africa has been extensively reviewed in Drought Network News (Bruwer, 1989; Bruwer, 1990a; Bruwer, 1990b). The protection of natural resources against deterioration (natural vegetation = veld) and the protection of rural communities and infrastructure against disruption of agricultural and socioeconomic development have always been major thrusts behind drought relief subsidies.
Since 1980, two important provisos for drought relief payments to stock farmers have been implemented: (1) a drought must assume disaster proportions (Bruwer, 1990b) and (2) stock numbers must not exceed the official carrying capacity (Department of Agricultural Development, 1992).
The pressure on politicians and policy makers to provide additional aid at times of drought—that is, to go beyond previously agreed-on limits—is immense (Smith et al., 1992). This is especially true for the arid zone of South Africa, as was classically illustrated by Bruwer (1990b). Between 1956 and 1985, the greater part of this zone has been declared drought-stricken for more than 50% of the time, compared to the intrinsic occurrence of disaster droughts of less than 30%. This prompted the establishment of the Drought Monitoring and Information Centre (DMIC) at the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute in 1992. This center was commissioned to develop scientifically sound drought assessment, detection, monitoring, and management systems for the arid zone.