WINDHOEK, Sept. 12 – Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has noted that due to climate change, drought events are expected to become more frequent and more severe.
Speaking at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) occasion yesterday, Shifeta said Namibia experienced the severe impacts of El Nino in both 2013 and 2015, culminating in a situation that rendered 25% of the population as “food insecure.”
“Drought is a particularly critical issue for my country Namibia, as well as for the 2 billion people of the world that reside in dry lands areas, which constitute an estimated 41% of the world’s surface,” Shifeta said.
He said this is one of the reasons why addressing drought mitigation as a matter of priority was incorporated in the Namib Declaration; adopted as Decision 36 of Conference of the Parties (COP) 11 in 2013.
Furthermore, he believes it is essential that a pro-active approach is taken to improve the country’s preparedness to be able to cope with drought impacts effectively.
“With drought mitigation being one of the objectives of the UNCCD, we need the Convention to take a leading role on this matter at the international level,” Shifeta said.
It is not all doom and gloom, however, as he is pleased to see a greater focus of the UNCCD when it comes to enhancing resilience to drought, as well as its inclusion in the new Strategic Framework of the Convention for the period 2018-2030.
“Namibia, in partnership with the African Union and the UNCCD, hosted a first ever African Drought Conference in August 2016, which was attended by over 400 delegates, including international and local experts from Governments, civil society organizations, UN agencies, academia and the private sector,” Shifeta said.
Shifeta said this conference resulted in two major outputs, which he believes are of very high relevance for today’s round-table discussion – namely the adoption of the Strategic Framework for Drought Risk Management and Enhancing Resilience in Africa, which proposes for a Drought Resilient and Prepared Africa (DRAPA) as well as the Windhoek Declaration for Enhancing Resilience to Drought. – Sharma Mundingi