Namibia: Cabinet Approves N$573 Million for Drought

The carcass of an ox lies on the ground at the Okombahe settlement in the Erongo Region in 2016. Communal farmers in Okombahe, Omatjete, Okaumbaha and other areas in the region are losing animals on a large scale due to the drought.
22 March 2019

Cabinet this week announced it has approved a comprehensive drought relief intervention worth N$572.7 million to assist drought-affected communities in communal areas, who are grappling with the prevailing drought.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa made this disclosure to journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday.

Namibia has been experiencing a persistently stubborn drought for the past six years, which has killed an unspecified number of livestock across the country, estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Farmers and farmers' unions have called on President Hage Geingob to declare a national emergency due to widespread drought.

Late last month, Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister Alpheus !Naruseb told a media gathering that the government was considering declaring a drought state of emergency towards end of April.

He said government is duty-bound to prepare a current situation analysis reflecting the expected rain pattern for between now and April.

Simataa said drought relief interventions would be controlled by the National Emergency Disaster Fund, where the ministries of defence and health would have to avail facilities and support for the implementation thereof.

He said the money will cover food assistance, water tanks, livestock management incentives, transport subsidy to and from grazing areas, and transport for fodder, lease of grazing area, subsidy for crop farmers, lick supplements and fodder subsidy. However, he said this will be done on the condition that farmers should bring down their stock levels to at least 25 cattle and one bull per affected farmer, Nampa reported.

"The rest [farmers] who want to keep more [breeding stock] will not be compelled [to reduce them], but we are appealing to them to reduce to reasonable numbers that they can build when the situation changes, the news agency quoted Simataa as to have said.

In June 2015, the ministry of agriculture and the vulnerability assessment directorate, in close consultation with the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), carried out a post-harvest crop assessment and found that crop production in the country was estimated to be 46 percent below average for the 2014/15 cropping season.

The assessment results indicated that the country was experiencing the worst crop performance in eighty years, and such extreme poor crop harvests affected all dry land crop producing regions.

Overall, the 2015 cereal output stood at 68,000 tonnes, a significant 43 percent decline from the near-average 2014 output.

The assessment indicated that an estimated 370,316 people (16 percent of the total population) were food insecure and needed urgent food support, while a total number of 578,480 people were affected by the drought and would need livelihood protection deficit support until the next harvest in April 2016. Furthermore, there was an overall significant reduction in food and water availability, access and utilisation due to adverse effects of drought. As a result, a number of households had reduced their number of meals consumed to one meal per day.

The situation did not improve in the 2015/16 cropping season. The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) report of August 2015 forecasted that most of the southern states of continental Southern African Development Community (Sadc) were likely to receive below-normal rainfall for the periods of October to December 2015 and January to March 2016 (maize and millet sowing and growing period).

The report further stated that Namibia would most likely receive below normal rainfall in the 2015/16 cropping season. This resulted in continued insufficient crop yields and limited water for people and livestock.

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