Drought-ravaged SADC races against time
From ODIRILE TOTENG in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – A few weeks before land preparation begins for the next cropping season, some 23 million people in Southern Africa urgently need support to produce enough food to feed themselves and avoid reliance on humanitarian assistance until mid 2018.
This is according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), which has prepared a response plan aiming to ensure that seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services, including livestock support, provided to small-holder farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists to cope with the El Niño-induced drought in the region.
At least $109 million in funding is required to provide this urgently needed support.
Farmers must be able to plant by October. Failure will result in another reduced harvest in March 2017, severely affecting food and nutrition security and livelihoods in the region.
Two consecutive droughts, including the worst in 35 years this year, have hit vulnerable rural areas, as prices of maize and other staple rise.
Almost 40 million people in the region are expected to face food insecurity by the peak of the coming lean season in early 2017. All countries in Southern Africa are affected.
El Niño’s counter-phenomenon, La Niña, is likely to occur later this year and while it could bring good rains, measures must be taken to mitigate.
More than 640 000 drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe due to lack of pastures, water and disease outbreaks.
FAO’s call coincides with a SADC regional humanitarian appeal, launched in Gaborone on Tuesday the SADC Chairperson and President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
The region requires US$2,7 billion (R38,428 billion) to recover from the drought but $2,4 billion is yet to be funded.
– CAJ News
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