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Water Scarcity Still Prevails – Schlettwein

By: Lina Amutenya

Agriculture water and land reform minister Calle Schlettwein says that deep pockets of water scarcity still prevail in the country, limiting the ability of farmers to respond and adapt to the drought shocks.

He said several drought programmes, like the fodder subsidy, have led to unsustainable farming practices, while food distribution programmes during the drought need greater targeting and be complementary to food security objectives partnerships between and among the farmers, government and development partners.

This was said during the agenda for the National consultations review of the 1997 National policy today in Windhoek, in a speech delivered on the minister’s behalf by the ministry’s deputy executive director, Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata on Wednesday.

“In the framework of the Sustainable Development Agenda, no single country or institution will be able to deliver on its own. Partnership is key, placing increasing responsibility on farm management for adaptation and sustainable, climate-smart farming practices,” said the minister.

Schlettwein says government has identified specific strategies to implement before another drought strikes.

Namibia recorded three national emergencies in 2013, 2016, and 2019 due to extreme drought that left the agriculture industry in difficulties. In 2019, nearly 100,000 livestock perished while agriculture production was at an all-time low. This was the worst drought in 90 years.

Schlettwein said, over the past 10 years, the government, with the support of stakeholders and development partners, has deployed measures to the severe impact of drought events on the agricultural, water and land sectors as well as the consequent impact on the economy and households.

According to the minister, the national consultations review should change the successes and deficiencies of the past and the current practice to develop a complete policy with clear visionary implementation strategies.

Schlettwein added that the review should have effective policy tools and strategies considering the specific needs identified by communities during the regional consultation process.

He said the government has previously deployed measures to mitigate the severe impact of drought events on the agricultural, water and land sectors and the consequent impact on the economy and households.

These include the Water Sector Support Program, which was launched last year with an estimated budget of N$ 10.6 billion. Of this, N$2.2 billion is funded by government, African Development Bank funds N$2.3 billion, N$1 billion by Namwater and potentially up to N$2.5 billion by KfW as a funding compact for a national integrated water supply system for water generation, storage and distribution.

He said the government also invested in water management systems and data generation, such as the update on the hydrogeological maps to assist with integrated planning and utilization.

Schlettwein said government also formulated and implemented “Land Use Plans to enhance sustainable land management as a value proposition to further enhance productivity and long-term resilience.”

 

Julia Heita

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