Saturday, August 20, 2016

African nations appeal for funding for drought mitigation

A week-long drought conference ended Friday in Namibia's capital Windhoek, with a call for international help for funding as 200 million people in Africa are food insecure.

The conference identified specific needs for African countries to effectively mitigate against drought and develop a strategic framework to enhance resilience to drought events.

A Windhoek declaration on Drought Resilience was adopted Friday by heads of state.

Two outstanding features of the draft are that Africa needs to set up a fund to be used to mitigate drought as well as set up a team that will implement the recommendations made at the conference.

Namibia's President Hage Geingob told the conference Thursday that Africa's problems arising from the drought now needs the private sector and civil society's intervention.

He said an estimated 40 billion Namibian dollars (about 3 billion US dollars) is needed to assist drought-affected countries in the Southern African Development Community alone.

"This is a significant sum of money, and we need the support and solidarity of the international community in order to ensure that lives are saved and that our critical short-term needs are met," he said.

He called on the delegates to critically interrogate issues relating to drought to ensure a faster response to ease the effect on affected communities and farmers.

Executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Monique Barbut said Africa can recognize that the traditional approach of responding to drought is not viable any more.

According to Barbut, some 65 percent of arable land in Africa is affected by droughts,and this impacts African economies.

Barbut suggested that Africa can be proactive by considering sustainable irrigation schemes for crops and livestock, or water harvesting schemes such as recycling and the reuse of water.

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