Namibia declares drought a national disaster, seeks aid

Drought. Picture: AFP / File / Ziniyange Auntony

Drought. Picture: AFP / File / Ziniyange Auntony

‘The livelihoods of the majority of Namibians, especially those that depend on agricultural activities is threatened,’ the country’s prime minister said.

Namibia on Tuesday declared drought a national disaster after poor rainfall wreaked havoc on crops and scorched grazing fields.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila made the announcement a day after the southern African nation launched an urgent appeal for international aid.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told parliament it was clear that the “livelihoods of the majority of Namibians, especially those that depend on agricultural activities is threatened.”

“Most regions are experiencing water shortage, as most of the rain-fed catchments are either dry or have little water,” she said.

Namibia, a country of 2.4 million people, has since 2015 experienced numerous dry spells.

In April, an agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals had died between October 2018 and March 2019 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather.

“It’s a call for any institution or person to complement government efforts to assist and fight the effects of drought,” Information Minister Stanley Simataa told AFP, speaking about the government’s aid appeal.

Two weeks ago, the government announced that it will spend about R570 million on drought relief this year to buy food, provide water tankers and provide subsidies to farmers.

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