Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Namibia: Severe Drought Heavily Affects Areas of Namibia

Severe drought in Namibia threatens the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people, as they are left with failure of crops, livestock deaths, short supplies of water, and concern over food security.

The government of Namibia issued a state of emergency in May of this year.

The International Federation of the Red Cross reported maize production alone is 34 percent below average, and they noted the crisis will likely worsen. It said Namibia has only one harvest a year and the next harvest is not due until March 2014.

Dorkas Kapembe-Haiduwa, is the secretary-general of the Namibian Red Cross. She said Namibians rely heavily on crop production and agricultural activities as a means of survival.

"We do not do a lot of irrigation. Most of the agriculture activities are rain-fed and obviously grazing is also required. That's why we really had failed rains, hence we have failed crops and harvest was very much limited," she explained.

Namibia is known to be the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa. The Red Cross reported that Windhoek, the capital city, received just 6.5 inches of rain between last October and April, less than half the average for a rainy season.

Kapembe-Haiduwa said the nutrition of children is a big concern. Namibia's government had already instituted some school feeding practices which will be expanded in the future. She pointed out the targeted school groups for the school feeding are grades one through seven.

"However, the under-five and other groups such as lactating mothers and pregnant mothers, and elderly, would be benefitting from some arrangements from the Red Cross, and the council of churches, to set up kitchens to provide meals on a daily basis," she said.

The international community is responding by providing aid to the Namibian government of Namibia, and channeling resources through non-governmental agencies.

Kapembe-Haiduwa said while food supplies are aplenty, the question remains, "Will people be able to continue to buy from these outlets (food stores)?"

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