Gaborone - The SADC Climate Service Centre division at its secretariat in Gaborone has warned member states to be on high alert as drought ravages the region.
The centre has issued a seasonal drought advisory to mobilise national meteorological and hydrological services across the region as well as encouraging them “to provide a national breakdown of the specific areas under drought to assist response agencies to properly target areas under threat”.
“Drought assessments are encouraged in all SADC member states as there are pockets of drought affected areas in all the countries within the region,” reads an advisory notice from climate service centre.
“Activation of drought contingency plans in most of the affected member states is advised to guide response actions in an effort to sustain livelihoods and protect loss of life and assets such as livestock.”
It recommended increased coordination of the drought responses at all levels to ensure the effectiveness of response actions.
There is extreme drought over most of the south-western parts of SADC due to a deficit in rainfall during the 2018/19 season. The centre stated that to date, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe have already declared a drought state emergency.
It reiterated that most of the SADC region was in a drought condition.
“An extreme drought situation is prevailing over central to western parts, mainly over southern Angola, southern Zambia, northern Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, north-western South Africa and most of central-northern Namibia. Consequently, some of these member states have declared a state of drought disaster,” the centre said.
“Pockets of dryness exist over most of Tanzania, western and eastern DRC, eSwatini, southern Mozambique and western Madagascar. These areas are advised to closely monitor the dryness to ensure response actions are activated according to the level of drought impact on the ground,” the centre said.
Most of southern Angola, most of Namibia, south-western Botswana and north-western South Africa experienced a significant deficit in rainfall during the season as they recorded less than 50% of their normal seasonal rainfall.
“Above average rainfall was measured in some parts of Mozambique, Malawi, most of Tanzania, north-eastern Zambia, northern Madagascar, central-to-north Democratic Republic of Congo and the tip of south-western South Africa,” it said.
The area along Lake Kariba between southern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe also recorded much less rainfall compared to the long-term average.
Standardised Precipitation Index shows that most of the SADC region has been through a dry 2018/19 season with few parts of the region depicting signal for a wetter season over eastern and north-central parts.
“These dry conditions are more extreme over central to western parts, mainly over southern Angola, southern Zambia, northern Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, north-western South Africa and most of central-northern Namibia,” the centre noted.
Meanwhile, as part of its effort to mitigate the effects of drought, the SADC Secretariat said it intends to strengthen its capacity and response to drought by engaging the services of a consultant to, among others, review the SADC region response and preparedness, map humanitarian resources and produce illustrative material for effective coordination of disaster preparedness and response.
It announced that it has received a grant from the World Bank, which is part of the Strengthening Disaster Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa Programme, an initiative of the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States, financed by the European Union and implemented by the World Bank.
The Secretariat said it intends to use part of the grant to finance a consultancy to support the strengthening of SADC Regional Disaster Preparedness and Response Institutional and Coordination Mechanisms.
“The overall objective of this assignment is to strengthen the SADC regional disaster preparedness and response coordination and institutional mechanisms and improve the necessary technical and financing capacities, and beneficiation by the SADC member states, researchers and academia, civil society organisations and the private sector in the region, and more importantly, vulnerable communities,” said the Secretariat.
The consultant will also be expected to develop the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as a Regional Emergency Roster. He or she will develop Emergency Response Team (ERT) training modules and training for the SADC members states emergency response essential kits and tools for knowledge management and information sharing.
The consultant will also develop hazard-based Simulation Exercises Guidelines and conduct country and regional level disaster simulation exercises as well as proposing provisions for the establishment of a SADC Regional Disaster Preparedness Fund and develop a Resource Mobilization Strategy for enhanced humanitarian preparedness and sustainability plan.