• August 4th, 2020

The case for drought mitigation in Namibia

The world is experiencing the effects of climate change on an unprecedented scale, ranging from floods, forest fires, high temperatures and drought to disease and pest outbreaks – and Namibia is not spared by this reality. In fact, Namibia is more vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its arid landscape and erratic weather patterns, which is further compounded by the fact that a large part of its landmass is covered by two deserts, Kalahari desert in the south and the Namib desert on the west.  

Namibia has been facing recurrent drought since 2013 characterised by no rainfall to below average rainfall and soaring temperatures, while 2019 is widely reported as the driest year in 90 years of recorded history. Historically, drought in Namibia was localised, affecting only some parts of the country. However, over the past 4 years and in particular 2018/2019, drought has become national rather than be confined to some parts of the country to the extent that the government has now declared a state of emergency.  Between 2013 and 2019, the government has declared three state of emergencies related to drought.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country has lost over 64 000 livestock and counting, in 6 months due to lack of water and grazing caused by drought. That is about 60 000 more livestock lost compared to 2013 when only 4 000 livestock were lost. More recently, the government was forced to auction over 1 000 wild animals from its national parks to save them from perishing due to drought. 

While Namibia has many development partners assisting in drought mitigation, few have made long term and sustainable contributions. Among the few is the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Namibia who launched the Namibia Country Programme Framework (NCPF) 2019-2023 on 17 September 2019. The NCPF is aimed at mobilising and providing technical support to mitigate effect of drought on agricultural production. Among the priorities of the CPF is capacity building and disaster risks reduction, and resilience building and climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

In addition to the NCPF, FAO through its IT Division and partners has developed a range of data services, which can be used as part of decision making when considering interventions. The regional drought monitoring system (RDMS) and Water Productivity Open Access Portal (WaPOR) are examples of such data services. 

As we come to the realisation that drought is the new normal in Namibia, the approach to drought mitigation should not be reactionary but rather a well-planned, sustained and strategic intervention, focused on capacity building in agriculture, animal husbandry, biodiversity, water management and agricultural technology. More importantly, farming practices must undergo a paradigm shift from relying on rain fed farming to more sustainable alternatives such as irrigated farming as part of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Staff Reporter
2020-02-21 12:16:48 | 5 months ago

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