Few countries prepared for drought

22 September 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Only a few countries in the world have fully-fledged drought management policies, while most nations' interventions tend to focus on response.

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta last week delivered these remarks at a virtual United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Commonwealth event on accelerating action around land for enhanced climate action.

Shifeta said Namibia has been identified as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, mainly due to its dry environment, recurrent droughts and reliance on natural resource-based sectors.

These sectors include agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

“The phenomenon of climate change also has the potential to exacerbate the impacts from existing challenges relating to land management, such as declining yields, deforestation, overstocking, overgrazing and human-wildlife conflict.”



Worst droughts in history

Namibia has experienced some of the worst droughts in its history since 2013.

According to Shifeta, this has exposed the country's vulnerability to droughts.

He said most affected countries continue to be inadequately prepared to cope with droughts, which are set to become more severe and frequent with climate change.

Namibia has now started to enhance preparedness over the long-term through established proactive drought preparedness mechanisms, the minister said.

“At international level, and during our presidency of the UNCCD, Namibia focused increased attention on addressing drought mitigation as a matter of priority... This was included as a strategic action area under the Namib Declaration, which was adopted at the 11th conference of the parties to the UNCCD in 2013 and was subsequently adopted as an official document of the UN General Assembly.”



Developing effective policy

Shifeta said an intergovernmental working group has been established to develop effective policy and implementation measures to address drought impacts.

At regional level, Namibia, in partnership with the African Union, UNCCD and other partners, convened the first-ever African Drought Conference in August 2016 in Windhoek.

The conference resulted in the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Resilience to Drought in Africa and a strategic framework for a Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA).

Shifeta added that Namibia is currently revising its drought policy to align it with the DRAPA strategic framework and is also engaged in a pilot project to enhance its drought and climate change early warning system.



Transformative projects

According to him, Namibia continues to develop and implement transformative projects and programmes that are aimed at enhancing adaptation to climate change and drought shocks, and addressing the root causes of land degradation and loss of biological diversity.

“We also continue to play a leading role in the extension of the Great Green Wall initiative to the southern Africa region,” the minister said.

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