13 February 2013

Namibia: Looming Drought Concerns President

Photo: Chris Simpson/IRIN
Farmers are concerned about the survival of their livestock due to the poor rainfall (file photo).

Windhoek — President Hifikepunye Pohamba has instructed the Emergency Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister to co-ordinate efforts and pool resources in the event of a drought.

He issued the directive at the opening of the first session of Cabinet for the year 2013 at State House yesterday. It was a cheerful affair as Cabinet members met and chatted in groups before the President addressed them.

When Pohamba entered the Cabinet Chambers, he asked members to observe a minute of silence in honour of the late Dr Abraham Iyambo, who passed away in the United Kingdom over a week ago before his opening address.

The president, who also invited the Swapo Party secretary general to the Cabinet meeting for the co-ordination of government policy and implementation in line with the Swapo Party congress resolutions said that many farmers around the country face a poor harvest due to delayed rainfall.

"This could lead to food shortages, requiring the distribution of drought relief to household," he said. "Our government should, therefore, put the necessary measures in place and prepare to deal with this situation in order to prevent loss of lives," he added.

Reports from the Namibia Meteorological Services (NMS) indicate that January was characterised by very dry and hot conditions in most parts of the country, except for the north-central and northeastern parts of the country. The forecast for this week indicates only isolated thundershowers, mainly in the northeast and north-central parts of the country.

The MNS also indicates that since drought conditions persist, there should be concern about crop and grazing conditions, except, possibly in the northeastern regions of Kavango and Caprivi. But floods in that part of the country could also lead to a poor crop harvest, because crops in some areas have already been submerged.

Even though February is often characterised by heavy rainfall, during the first two weeks of the month, Windhoek only received a total rainfall of 3.2mm, while rainfall recorded during the entire month of January was a mere 20.6mm.

Apart from tackling the question of an impending drought, Pohamba called for the speedy and intensified implementation of all government policies and programmes. He said development partners should strive to achieve the implementation targets set in the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), adding: "it is important that the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are strengthened," to enable government to keep track of progress made by various implementing agencies.

"I would like to emphasise that each stakeholder must do its part to contribute to the success of this important national development initiative," Pohamba said. He also called for the timely completion of all capital projects that are in already in progress, such as the construction of roads and railways, bridges and public buildings.

"During this year, we must recommit ourselves to continue doing our utmost at all times. In this manner, we will be able to move our country forward and improve the living conditions of our people," the president said.

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