Persisting drought crippling Namibia

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Persisting drought crippling Namibia

Ø  Fifth time in six years drought state of emergency

Ø  Govt appeals for assistance

Ø  Over 70 000 livestock dead

Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia is experiencing many years of prolonged drought, which has culminated in government creating a national bank account to assist those affected.

This is the fifth time in six years that the Namibian government is declaring a state of emergency regarding drought. A report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry states that over 70 000 livestock have died since last year as a result of the drought situation.

Likewise, famers countrywide would be lucky to harvest anything from their crop fields this year.  

As a result, the Namibian government has declared another state of emergency with cabinet approving R572.7 million to assist drought-affected communities in communal areas, who are grappling with the prevailing drought.

“The rainy season is almost over and we did not receive good rainfall. This means that we are facing the natural disaster of a drought and many will be affected by the situation. As a responsible and caring Government, we have to take proactive measures to deal with the worst effects of the drought,” President Hage Geingob said when announcing the drought state of emergency.

Geingob said offices, ministries and agencies and all other stakeholders will be mobilised to ensure that the necessary assistance is rolled out to affected communities.

The drought relief interventions would be controlled by the National Emergency Disaster Fund, where the Ministries of Defence and Health would have to avail facilities and support for the implementation thereof.

This week, government announced that it had opened a special bank account for volunteers to make financial contributions towards the drought relief programme. The money will cover food assistance, water tanks, livestock management incentives, transport subsidy to and from grazing areas, and transport for fodder, lease of grazing area, subsidy for crop farmers, lick supplements and fodder subsidy.

This year’s drought is happening at a time when the Namibian economy is at its lowest point and struggling to record economic growth, prompting the government to ask for international assistance.

Some organisations and countries have already heeded to this call. The United States ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, announced a package of US$100,000 (R1.44 million) in immediate drought assistance for Namibia from USAID’s Office for Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The funds will be used for humanitarian disaster relief with water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions to be provided by the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) to targeted drought-affected communities.

Zhang Yiming, the Chinese ambassador to Namibia, this week also announced that his country’s Red Cross Society would provide US$150 000 (N$2.1 million) as an urgent humanitarian assistance for the drought situation.

Meanwhile, government has urged citizens to reduce their livestock numbers as government is not sure when the persisting drought will end.

“The farmers who want to keep more breeding stock will not be compelled to reduce them, but we are appealing to them to reduce to reasonable numbers that they can build when the situation changes,” government spokesperson, Stanley Simataa, said.

 

 

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