Cabinet awaits briefing on drought

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WINDHOEK – The National Early Warning and Food Information Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is expected to brief Cabinet next week on the looming drought in the country.

Namibia is bracing itself for a possible crisis worse than the drought experienced in 2013 as rains continue to stay away.
The situation – wherein only some five percent of all producers have received normal rainfall – has forced the livestock industry to schedule a meeting urgently in Windhoek this Friday to decide on a drought strategy, while the crop farming industry already announced an expected dismal total harvest in both the commercial and communal areas during a similar meeting two weeks ago.

At the same time, the water levels in all the major dams in the country are dropping at an alarming rate and Windhoek as the commercial hub could soon face water restrictions.

The Windhoek Municipality has again reminded the capital’s approximately 330 000 residents of the serious implications of wasting water in the absence of rain, as water levels in the city’s major supply dams decline daily, now reaching worryingly low levels and in some cases, even lower than in 2013.

Chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) Mecki Schneider says the meeting for Friday was organised by the Livestock Producers Forum (LPF), which represents all farmers’ unions in the country.

He warns that Namibian livestock farmers could be heading for a scenario worse than in 2013 as they cannot rely on reserve grazing as they did two years ago. Those reserves have all been used up after the drought of 2013.

Every drop now counts

In Windhoek, the spokesperson for the municipality Joshua Amukugo issued a stern warning to residents to save water. He made special mention of car washers whom he called “the big culprits”, saying they will be monitored closely as the water situation deteriorates and action will be taken against them.

Amukugo also appealed to all residents not to water their gardens before 16:00, to repair all leaking taps immediately and cover their swimming pools.

“Every drop now counts, and everybody must work together,” he noted after the latest dam bulletin from NamWater sent an unwelcome message to residents.

According to the report the levels of the Swakkoppoort Dam and Von Bach Dam – the main suppliers to Windhoek – have dropped to 37.8 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively, significantly lower than the 45.2 percent and 47.3 percent last year at the same time.
All role players in the livestock and crop industries agree that it is not an issue anymore of who can afford water, but a matter of unavailability of water from the source.

Crop farmers in the maize triangle indicated last week that total yields of only some 35 percent of the previous season’s harvest are expected this year.

Last week the chairperson of the Agronomic Producers Association, Gernot Eggert, said the total harvest could be even less than the expected 35 000 tonnes if it did not rain in the following ten days – something that did not transpire. Namibia produced just over 73 000 tonnes of maize last season.

If a household uses between 0 and 6 kilolitres (6 000 litres) per month, the tariff is N$12.30 per kilolitre. If the consumption is between 6 and 45 kilolitres per month, the rate goes up to N$20.93 per kilolitre and when it is more than 45 kilolitres per month, the rate rises to N$38.59 per kilolitre.

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