Namibia on Wednesday evening became the torchbearer for Africa’s constant struggle against drought as the common enemy of the continent when Deputy Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Christine //Hoebes officially launched the African Drought Conference, scheduled from August 15 to 19 in Windhoek.
About 650 delegates, including some of the best academics in their fields from around the globe, are expected to attend.
Government, representatives from the United Nations, embassies in Namibia and the private sector pledged to unite Africa during the conference to enhance resilience to drought events on the continent.
Namibia has spent more than N$250 million since last year on drought food aid and a few weeks ago SADC declared a regional disaster while East Africa is suffering its worst drought in 60 years.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, in a statement read on her behalf by //Hoebes, said drought is an issue of critical national, regional and global importance. Dealing with the relief of the impact of the current drought in Namibia is an issue falling directly under the remit of the OPM.
The genesis of this conference dates back to Namibia’s successful hosting of the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in 2013, which resulted in a number of decisions and declarations to increase the emphasis on addressing drought vulnerability through the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
Namibia continued to further this agenda as President of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification from 2013 to 2015, and the hosting of this conference was finally agreed upon in September 2015 at a meeting in Windhoek between President Hage Geingob and the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Monique Barbut.
“A secure water world is emerging as a top human development priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” the PM said.
“But to truly deliver secure and sustainable water for all, policymakers need sound evidence connecting water security to economic growth and development.”
“There is a strong need to promote and accelerate a transition to water security and to understand the links between water security and sustainable economic growth.”
“Water resources play a defining role in economic development between and across sectors. Investment in water security is not only a matter of protecting society from specific water risks; it is an investment in enabling economic growth.”
“Global climate change is expected to lead to erratic rainfall unevenly distributed across our vast country, higher average temperatures and increased water evaporation.”
“These will undermine both commercial livestock production and traditional subsistence agriculture, with serious implications for employment, food security, and export revenue.”
“Namibia is honoured and proud to take the lead in hosting this conference. The need for and hosting of this conference has been endorsed by the recent sixth special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in April 2016, and the African Union Commission has also given its full backing to this conference ” she concluded.