It is a given Namibia is drought-prone. This status quo will continue for a long time to come.
The Namibian government and its internal and external partners have over the years committed astronomical amounts of money to provide food such as corn meal, rice, tinned pilchards and water to those in need particularly in the country’s rural areas.
The constant drought puts a huge strain on our meagre resources. It indirectly affects government’s commitment to provide quality health services, the provision of quality education, the provision of road infrastructure, basic sanitation and housing among other competing and statutory needs.
Government rightly declared a state of emergency - the second in three successive years - over the situation, mobilising all agencies to respond to the severe drought.
One out of five Namibians is directly affected by the recurrent drought while hundreds of thousands do not have access to food and in some cases water. The drought has affected cattle, goats, sheep and it has depleted many water sources.
It also exacted a horrendous toll on the livestock with one estimate putting the number of livestock killed over a six-month period at over 60 000.
As much as government efforts have been praiseworthy and commendable, we need foresight and should not only act only after the drought has stricken. Some countries that faced a similar predicament have started ploughing drought resistant crops and they have taken the desalination route in a big way. We should not sit on our laurels relying on rain-fed because this model of farming is unsustainable due to drought.
We have to start thinking innovatively otherwise our country faces the dilemma of having food insecurity, failed crops and will year-in, year out continue having one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares with the continual threat of water rationing.
Desalination is becoming the future of drought relief in many parts of the world and Namibia should take cue from this as desalination has become cost effective.
Many countries in Africa and beyond previously had faced a similar predicament as they relied heavily on ground water and rains. With innovation, these countries have tempered the effects of drought. Countries in the Middle East have desalination plants that have larger capacities. Despite the fact the Middle East, agriculture plays a pivotal role in the economies of most countries in the Middle East and even the North African region.
These countries are able to grow fruits, cereals, sugar, barley, rice, maize, cotton and many other crops. We should innovate and much foresight is needed or we will continue being held hostage by the recurrent drought.
2019-09-27 09:38:34 18 days ago