African drought conference postponed indefinitely

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has postponed the African Drought Conference, slated to take place this week, until further notice due to unforeseen circumstances.

The event was set to take place from 11 to 15 May 2015 at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino.

The Presidency Administrative Assistant of the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Yolande Motinga in a media statement issued last month stated that the event has been postponed indefinitely.

“We thank our stakeholders and partners for the support they have provided in the preparation of this conference, as well as the general public for the interest they have shown in it. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this postponement,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Namibia along with countries in the Southern African region have received poor rainfall from January to March this year and are experiencing an adverse impact on household food security. Since early November last year, infrequent and below-average rainfall in parts of the region has resulted in abnormal dryness.

The situation has prompted Cabinet to approve short, medium and long-term measures last month to mitigate the impact of drought in Namibia. These measures were taken after the result of the Crop and Household Food Security Assessment conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) in February 2015, painted a dire picture and noted that some farmers decided not to plant crops this season, while others have lost harvest due to the late and erratic rainfall.

Cabinet then authorized the implementation of an interim drought relief program, which includes distribution of maize meal to an estimated 417 944 affected people for three months; from May to July 2015, the MAWF announced at a media briefing last month.

The interim measures are implemented while awaiting the outcome of the post-harvest crop and vulnerability assessment planned for May/June 2015 to determine the impact of drought on food production, livelihood and the number of people affected.

The drought situation is so serious that Government was prompted to drill 50 boreholes to provide water, according to the MAWF.