Thursday, January 16, 2014

Namibian drought still severe amid sparse rainfall

Desie Heita and Magreth Nunuhe in via New Era (Namibia): The drought relief programme that includes the distribution of food, seed, subsidies for fertilisers and grazing should continue "until such time the affected people are able to regain their normal livelihoods".

This is part of the recommendations contained in the just released Agricultural Input and Household Food Security Report by the National Early Warning and Food Information System (NEWFIU), in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. The government's drought relief programme was to end in March this year. A food assessment found that many households are without sufficient food, have lost huge numbers of their livestock, have insufficient seeds to plant this season and that surviving livestock are too weak to be used as draught animals in the crop fields.

The report, which is based on field visits to various areas across the country, noted that food security in the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions "is worsening", while the situation in Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati is said to be "weakening".

A ground assessment by New Era confirmed the report's findings, with farmers still complaining of a lack of access to seeds, ploughing services as well as subsidies for grazing and households without sufficient food.

Councillor for Epukiro Constituency Ruth Mbura said some Epukiro farmers are still waiting for government to pay out subsidies to those who sold their animals. She said that while others received their money in cash, those who opted for bank transfers have been waiting since November last year to receive payment. Farmers in Epukiro and Aminuis constituencies, the two most devastated constituencies in the Omaheke Region, say their livestock continue to die in large numbers as very little rain was received. Farmers in the two constituencies have put the number of large livestock casualties at 200 in the last three months. There are no official figures available yet and New Era could not independently confirm the figures....

A dune in Swakopmund, Namibia, shot by Joachim Huber, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license 

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