Incorporation of hazard and vulnerability information into land use planning
To successfully implement land use planning for volcanic hazards, it is essential that information related to volcanic hazards and risk is proactively incorporated into land use planning processes and documents. This includes scientific information on volcanic hazards (including hazard maps), as well as social aspects of planning for hazards including risk, vulnerability and resilience. As an example, scientific information about volcanic hazards could be mapped onto planning-scale maps, similar to how New Plymouth District has mapped the lahar hazard (1:30,000). This could be compared with available information on vulnerability and resilience. Finnis et al., (submitted) provides examples of how vulnerability and resilience to volcanic hazards can be spatially measured. Where possible, any local authority policies, objectives and rules for development should reflect the hazards shown on planning maps, and associated vulnerability and resilience information. Consideration of the probability of an event occurring could also be undertaken,with authorities setting policies that reflect a particular probability.
Improving plan quality and implementation of plans
A key to ensuring volcanic hazards are accounted for in a land usecontext is to ensure they are adequately addressed within policy statements andplans. As stated earlier, New Zealand land use plans and policy statements currently have very little volcanic hazard content. This is possibly due to the fact that only limited guidance is available to planners to show them what options are available. Plan quality could be improved by the development of nationally applicable best practice guidance that specifically targets land use planning for volcanic risk reduction. Such guidance could provide planners with advice on the role of land use planning in reducing volcanic risk and how to account for volcanic hazards where necessary. To enable such guidance to be introducedinto plans and policy statements, and implemented on the ground, promotion andsupport by central government is required. Assistance would also be necessaryfrom those with expertise in volcanic risk, for example, volcanic scientistscould help planners interpret the risk so they could apply relevant provisionsthat suit the situation.
Policy Review | Hoover Institution
The role of the Government is to assist farmers' own efforts to cope with various risksand, where possible, to take steps to reduce the likelihood of risk. This involves fourseparate tasks: Farmers can choose between crops, livestock and technologies which differ regardingtheir susceptibility to drought, disease and infestation, and regarding the costs ofpreventative measures such as dipping and spraying. Research will be aimed at supportingthe development of more robust technologies as well as preventative measures to reducerisk. Farmers do not always choose less risky technologies, as has been proved by thewidespread replacement of robust food crops such as sorghum and millet by maize. TheGovernment will therefore support research to improve the yield and robustness of allstaple-food crops, rather than simply of those requiring relatively high external inputs. The reorientation of research in South Africa is aimed at, amongst others,understanding the constraints and risks faced by the most vulnerable farmers, and atstrengthening their ability to deal with risk in a variety of ways. This will includeresearch and extension regarding a broad range of techniques, including low-input systemsto reduce vulnerability, water harvesting, fodder enhancement, and farming systems moregenerally. Diversification of production systems as well as sources of income for the farmhousehold will reduce risk levels. Risk-minimising measures will include minor steps suchas staggering the planting dates of the same crop to reduce the liability of complete cropfailure due to the pattern of intra-seasonal rainfall, and major initiatives such asdeveloping a range of crops, livestock and off-farm activities. Research and extensionwill support a wide variety of possibilities, depending on farm circumstances. The Government has the responsibility and the opportunity of greatly improving farmers'access to information, for example information on market trends and advances in research,as well as improved climate forecasts, and also of ensuring that the information isaccurate and useful. The NDA and provincial departments will also play a major role in the development ofdata collection, monitoring and assessment measures as part of a national early-warningsystem for disaster management under the Department of Constitutional Development. Government measures to control epidemic diseases which threaten farm livelihoods werediscussed in the previous section. As far as migratory pests are concerned, the Governmentis principally concerned with flying locusts and swarms of redbilled quelea. The Government cooperates with local communities in locust-breeding areas to controlthis pest. Some 40 million labour days were financed in 1997 to assist in a campaign whichprevented the depletion of some 9 million tons of pasture. The Government will continuecontrolling quelea swarms with explosives and chemical treatments but, as in the case oflocust control, attention will increasingly be paid to establishing new SADC-wideinstruments now that the functions of the SARCCUS subcommittee on migratory pests havebeen transferred to this larger organisation. Agricultural taxation compensates farmers to some extent for the measures they take toreduce the impact of disasters on farm income. Currently, special tax measures areavailable to farmers in the following cases: Firstly, the Income Tax Act of 1962 stipulates that where a farmer has sold livestockon account of drought, stock disease or damage to grazing by fire or plague, and purchasesreplacement stock within four years, such purchases may be counted as a deduction in theyear of purchase. The effect is to smooth taxable income. Secondly, the Tax Act stipulates that if a farmer disposes of livestock due to drought,and deposits the proceeds with the Land Bank, the deposit will not be deemed as part ofthe gross revenue for the year. Thirdly, the Act allows deductions for certaindrought-related expenditures. Fourthly, the Act makes provision for certain expenditureswhich relate to income (not capital), such as the allowance for interest on loans or bankdrafts to be deductible from income. These four provisions go some way towards assisting farmers in reducing theirvulnerability to droughts. However, it is notable that livestock farmers rather thancultivators receive much greater benefits, even though dryland crop farmers are morevulnerable to drought. One option would therefore be to extend the provisions to all tax-paying farmers, sothat they may save in good years as a deduction before the estimation and taxation oftotal revenue, and will be taxed in the year in which such savings are drawn down (whenincome will be lower, so that average long-term taxation is reduced a little on average,but the main effect is delayed taxation). The Working Group on Drought and Disaster Management, established by the Minister in1997, claims that such a measure is likely to have two additional effects that wouldprobably raise overall taxation. Firstly, it is likely that more farmers will register fortaxation thereby broadening the potential revenue base. Secondly, there will be a strongincentive for farmers to save (and eventually pay some tax) rather than reduce taxliability through the purchase of unnecessary or expensive equipment and vehicles. TheGroup also says that there would be no need for the Government to establish and manage astabilisation fund, although most funds are set up in this way (such as the Canadian NetIncome Stabilisation Account). For insurers, covering drought damages also requires exceptionally high standards ofassessment and inspection, resulting in high operating and administration costs. As forfarmers, in the past particularly there was a feeling that drought insurance wasoverpriced given the fact that the state would generally be expected to respond to theirdemands in times of extreme stress. However, the removal of Government assistance alone will not cause alarge number of farmers to take out policies from private-sector insurance companies basedpurely on commercial principles. In these circumstances the Working Group feels that itshould be considered providing a targeted subsidy on insurance premiums to smallerfarmers, especially those unable to benefit from any tax measures due to relatively lowincomes. South Africa's earlier attempt to broaden access to drought-inclusive crop insurancewas not particularly successful, however. Private insurers launched a scheme in 1979whereby the Government subsidised 25 % of the crop insurance premia for specialcomprehensive policies offered. In the first year of its operation, around 12 000 policieswere issued, with uptake being particularly poor in high-rainfall areas. The number ofsubscribers dropped every year after that. In the last year of the Government'sinvolvement, 1986, less than 2 000 policies were written. The scheme carried on forseveral more years without the Government's involvement, and then ceased altogether. The major problem with the scheme was the low participation rate, which apparentlyresulted from an inadequately developed pricing structure, an insufficient subsidy and, asmentioned above, the disincentive posed by the existence of other avenues for gettingdrought assistance from the NDA. If the Government is to consider attempting anew some form of subsidised,drought-inclusive insurance scheme, it must be mindful of South Africa's own pastexperience, as well as that of other countries where similar schemes have been attemptedwith generally disappointing results. Of greatest importance is that the participationrate must be significant, so that the risk-pooling function of the scheme can be fullyrealised. S