Sunday, December 26, 2010

Namibia: When every drop counts

Servaas van den Bosch in …The Omusati Region of northern Namibia is on the margins of what any farmer would consider arable land, with temperatures routinely hitting 40 degrees Celsius or more and rainfall seldom exceeding a pitiful 270 millimeters per year. To make matters worse 83 per cent of the little rain that does fall evaporates as soon as it hits the ground.

The people living here have no alternative to subsistence farming. Skills and opportunities are scarce, so whoever doesn’t leave scrapes a living herding goats or planting crops such as millet. In a report to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change, the government of Namibia has predicted global warming will cause a temperature rise of between 2 to 6 degrees Celsius in Namibia, while annual rainfall could diminish up to a further staggering 200mm. In a country where 70 per cent of the population practices some form of agriculture this is a problem.

…In mid-November the rains that normally fall from October to May were already more than a month late. All over the region farmers tell the same story: the growing season is getting shorter and shorter and the rains more and more unpredictable, putting stress on animals and people alike.

…As an experiment to help families adapt to ever drier conditions, the Country Pilot Partnership (CPP), supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), distributed 70 water tanks ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 litres to households, schools and hospitals….

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