Namibia: President declares drought an emergency

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PRESIDENT Hage Geingob officially declared a state of emergency as of yesterday due to the ongoing drought, while government has set aside N$90 million for the period April to July this year.

This is the second time in three years the government has declared a state of emergency. In 2013, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba declared an emergency saying more than 4 000 animals had died and about 300 000 people were affected by the drought.
In his declaration, Geingob said what Namibia is experiencing is a national disaster, and as per the Namibian Constitution, he declared it as such.

“I declare that a state of emergency exists in Namibia on the account of the persisting national disaster of drought that exists in all regions of the Republic of Namibia,” he said.

The declaration, dated 24 June 2016, was forwarded to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila's office, who notified the Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi, on Tuesday this week.

Namibia has been experiencing a persisent drought for the past three years, which has caused farmers to destock and has affected over a quarter of the population, who have no food security. In order to feed people, government has been running a drought relief programme, which saw N$916 million spent towards drought relief from April 2015 to March 2016.

About 700 000 people facing survival and livelihood protection deficits caused by food-and-mouth disease, increased prices of the staple food basket and severe drought conditions have received non-food assistance.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said governemnt has already identified measures to deal with the drought, and that they are busy with ongoing programmes.

One such programme is the drought relief which ended in March this year, she said this programme has since been extended from March to July this year, at the cost of N$90 million.

“The programme will be extended from August 2016 to March 2017 at the cost of N$600 million. We do not want to cause any disruptions in support to those who are affected,” she said.

According to her, government has already send through the declaration of the state of emergency, and help is expected from everyone who is ready to assist the government in its efforts to fight this drought.

“The declaration means that the situation is dire. It means it has become so bad that it is no longer just a group of individuals who need food, but that food is now needed at a national level.

The drought has been going on for three years now, and you now have a situation where agricultural production has decreased. Commercial farmers are de-stocking, people are becoming jobless, which means tax revenue is affected, as well as our national reserves,” she said.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila advised those who have harvested food to safe it, and that those who have livestock to de-stock so as to mitigate losses.