Over the years, Namibia continues to receive less rainfall, forcing farmers to go down to the wire in a bid to save their ailing livestock and brittle crops.
Other than the livestock sector, the key summer crop production areas have been the worst affected, although the impact of the drought is being felt nationwide.
In many extensive production areas, subsistence and small-scale farmers, as well as commercial farmers, have been unable to provide feed for their animals, resulting in heartbreaking scenes.
The impact of a drought on crop producers is immediate; for livestock producers it is evident later. But intensive livestock producers managed to maintain production during the past few years.
The globe is experiencing unprecedented effects from climate change. Namibia has not been left out from the effects of climate change created by the phenomenon we all know as El-Nino.
The stark new normal of climate change is becoming an ever-apparent reality. Extreme weather patterns such as floods, extensive droughts and even further land degradation have placed Namibia in a precarious position.
Namibia is a semi-arid country, and the rainfall patterns have mostly been erratic.
When we travel the length and breadth of this country, we observe how the vegetation is subdued, the crops that were cultivated failed, and the grazing conditions are extremely poor. These conditions are similar in all the regions.
It has been widely reported that last year 2019 was the driest year in 90 years. Windhoek measured the lowest rainfall since rain was recorded in 1891.
During that year, household food security was, as a result, affected negatively. Although we can up till now depend on the last year’s harvest, the food stocks at household levels are depleting whereas there will be no harvest to supplement or add to the existing stocks.
For animals, the grazing conditions deteriorated severely across the country, leaving the livelihood of the animals under severe pressure. Grazing and water availability for livestock also continue to be a problem in many parts of the country, due to late and poor rainfall performance experienced since the beginning of the rainfall season, but also due to lack of perennial water flows.
Subsequently, on May 6 2019, Dr Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia declared a state of emergency due to poor rainfall and the prevalent drought within the country.
About 500 000 Namibians face food insecurity and water shortages, while within six months an estimated 60 000 head of cattle have starved due to inadequate grazing.
It is now time we rise from the ghost of 2019 and set our sights on the future. We have had relatively good rains this year.
Let’s build on that and maintain a positive outlook for this year’s rainy season.