Botswana declares drought

Gaborone ‑ Botswana has become the latest country in Southern Africa to declare the drought situation in the country a national emergency following the Drought Assessment Tour Exercise conducted between April and May this year.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development noted that the country received poor rainfall during the 2012/13 planting season, which forced the government to declare Botswana as drought stricken.
Even though the acreage under crop was larger (348 820 ha.) than last year’s 345 000 hectares, the high moisture stress as a result of long dry spells between rainfall episodes resulted in very poor crop conditions. As such, total cereal production estimates are very low and this will negatively affect household food security, the ministry said in the statement.
The ministry stated that grazing, water and livestock conditions at the time of the assessment, was good countrywide – the situation is expected to deteriorate.
Generally, the grass had not reached maturity and in some parts it was already wilting due to moisture stress and, therefore, the range condition is expected to deteriorate rapidly as the dry season progresses, necessitating feed supplementation. Furthermore, the Press release says, drought-related mortalities have been reported in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the assessment found that in terms of nutritional indicators of children under the age of five has regressed while the incidence of destitution is expected to increase.
“It is also feared that the anticipated poor harvest would be a source of extreme vulnerability in the nutritional status of these populations, especially young children.
“Water supply for human is generally low, especially in the southern part of the country that is supplied from Gaborone dam, which is facing precarious situation due to the dam’s low water volume,” states the report.
Based on the conclusion drawn from the said factors, the whole country is experiencing a meteorological and agricultural drought while the southern part of the country is also experiencing hydrological drought due to low water volumes in the major southern dams, the government indicated.
The government added that: “The drought is envisaged to be severe enough in terms of both its effects and coverage to adversely affect human livelihood, and Batswana, with agro-based livelihoods [are] expected to suffer income losses and assets depletion, especially noting the anticipated drought-related livestock mortality”.
The drought is further expected to impact and threaten the nutritional status of the population due to poor harvest, shortage of seeds, and impaired purchasing power at the household level.
The sum of these factors will adversely affect recovery in 2014, therefore, government intervention is required.
In view of the drought conditions indicated, the government of Botswana has set aside R250 million for implementation of relief measures and actions for the period July 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014.
The Ministry of Agriculture will provide 35 percent drought relief subsidy on selected livestock feeds and supplements for most affected areas and 25 percent for the rest of the country.
Products to be subsidized are 50kg drought pellets, 50kg coarse salt, vitamins A, D, E 100ml, Di Calcium phosphate, molasses and roughage/bran.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will provide a second meal for primary schools and double ration supply coverage for health facilities at targeted and hard-hit areas.
Meanwhile, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba on May 17 declared the prevailing drought situation across the country as a national emergency and has since appealed to international community for assistance.
It is estimated that over 300 000 or 14 percent of the country’s total population of 2.3 million is affected by the drought and will require food aid. Namibia has put aside R200 million to counter the emergency situation.

July 2013
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