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Worst drought in over a century pushes Namibia closer to famine

worst-drought-in-over-a-century-pushes-namibia-closer-to-famine

Dam water levels in Namibia have almost halved from already low levels as the worst drought in more than 100 years pushes the nation closer to famine. On Thursday, December 12, 2019, the environment ministry reported that the drought had caused a third of Namibia's 2.5 million population to experience severe hunger. Hundreds of animals in conservation parks and cattle on farms were also dying.

Dams nationwide were at 19.3% of capacity this year, as compared to 35.6% this season last year, according to water utility Namwater. Officials blame the five-year drought hitting southern Africa on climate change.

Previously, the ministry auctioned 1 000 animals from national parks in an attempt to ease food shortages. Furthermore, it also culled surplus cattle, with the meat going to drought and hunger relief program.

"It’s important to note that it makes conservation-sense to reduce wildlife numbers whenever grazing is poor," said Romeo Muyunda, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

At least 700 000 Namibians were food insecure, said Minister of Environment Pohamba Shifeta at a climate change conference. In addition, the agricultural sector had contracted for the last five years, with rural households and small-scale farmers affected the worst.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Zambia and Zimbabwe, plummeting water levels at the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi have led to power outages. On the other hand, South Africa has introduced rationing. 

Namibia’s economy is expected to shrink by 1.5% in 2019 after contracting 0.1% last year due largely to severe drought, according to the finance ministry.

Featured image credit: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

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