PRETORIA – A slight increase has been recorded in dams across Namibia, as the country – and its neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region face insecurity inspired by a drought.
The Namibian newspaper, quoting the weekly dam level bulletin by parastatal the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater), said the improvement in water levels followed recent rain countrywide.
Combined dam levels only showed only a slight improvement, despite rains in some parts of the country, from 20.1 per cent last week to 20.9 per cent this week.
Last year, water restrictions were enforced as the sparsely populated country sought to manage water provision.
Hardap Farmers Association chairperson Dawid de Klerk told The Namibian that the water supply cuts to the farmers still apply.
“The critically low dam levels have already sunk farmers’ state of mind (morale) to the lowest,” he told the publication.
This week, Namibian Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the United States embassy in Namibia, and the World Food Programme (WFP) committed to expand a drought relief food programme in the southern African nation.
Although most northern regions in the country reportedly received high rainfall over the past few months, many residents continued to face severe food shortages and hunger.
A recently released integrated food security report, quoted by The Namibian, revealed that more than 430,000 Namibians faced severe food insecurity.
The US ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, announced the expansion of the US drought assistance in Namibia to six more regions.
“The United States is delivering on its promise to help Namibia through the drought. In total, over the coming months, US food aid will help more than 350,000 Namibians. While Namibia is used to years of low rainfall, the last rainy season was far below average. Crops failed and livestock perished,” Johnson was quoted in the publication.
The food delivery programme is part of the N$127 million food assistance pledged by the US to Namibia to procure and deliver more than 10,000 tonnes of food assistance. It remains the largest bilateral drought assistance by a foreign government to Namibia.
Last week, the government of Zimbabwe revealed that it was set to import maize from Uganda to avert hunger caused by drought and economic challenges in what was once southern Africa’s bread basket.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni offered him maize when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the recent African Union summit in Ethiopia.
Mnangagwa deployed a team led by Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri to Uganda to thrash out the logistics of importing the much-needed grain, the paper said.
The Zimbabwe leader said his country had previously managed to withstand two consecutive droughts because of grain reserves accumulated beforehand.
However, about eight million Zimbabweans still faced food insecurity due to the latest drought, which left over 45,000 cattle dead in the Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
“Those reserves, with this current drought, have been exhausted and this is why we are now diverting all funds which had been targeted for capital projects to procure grain to feed the people,” the Sunday Mail quoted Mnangagwa as saying.
Zimbabwe’s government is working with international partners including the WFP to provide food aid where needed.
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe has imported 50,000 tonnes of maize from neighbouring South Africa to mitigate shortages.