Southern Africa: SADC Wary of Drought Driven Conflicts

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A tropical cyclone (file photo).

Windhoek — A SERIES of conflicts, resulting from insufficient rainfall most of the region is likely to receive in the current season, are feared to hit the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Low yields are projected, with most of the region estimated to receive normal to below-normal rainfall.

SADC, hailed as the most peaceful region in Africa, fears conflict due to unfair pricing of commodities with low yields likely would result in inflation of prices of grains and cereals by some farmers, while on the other hand livestock farmers may reduce prices to destock.

"Conflicts and violence also increases the vulnerability of communities whose livelihood and survival depends on timely and adequate rainfall," stated SADC's Climate Services Centre (CSC) Early Warning Bulletin Update of the 2018/19 rainfall season.

SADC's CSC is also worried at the possibility of competition for resources between pastoralists and farmers might increase the risk of disputes and violence and with it, displacement.

There are also fears that competition for water resources resulting in tensions between upstream and downstream farmers will increase.

Other fears are around discord between wildlife and people, where one may encroach into the area of the other as well as clashes between authorities and people moving with their livestock into national parks in search of greener pastures.

Where the forecast is normal to above-normal rainfall, there is a likelihood of flooding that might result in displacement of communities and wildlife, with a potential for abrupt evacuations.

"Given that flooding accounts for most of the displacement associated with natural disasters, the use of forecasts and other early warnings available are recommended to better preparedness," CSC recommended.

The SADC centre warned more effective early warning systems and community-based early action without any control measures might trigger higher levels of displacement as a necessary survival measure.

The Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-22), held in Maun, Botswana in December confirmed many SADC member states recorded normal to below-normal rainfall during October-December 2018.

Total rainfall amount was below average in most parts of the region. Most parts of the region typically start planting in November but most of the rains came from late November to early December.

The bulk of SADC is projected to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for January to March 2019. Angola, eastern Botswana, south-eastern DRC, south Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, northern and western coastal South Africa, southern Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe will have such patterns.

Normal to above-normal rainfall conditions are expected in central South Africa, south-western Botswana, southeastern Namibia, northern Angola, Tanzania, Madagascar, a bulk of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mauritius, and Seychelles.

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