Estimated reading time: 10 minute(s)
Reports have shown that southern Africa has undergone a series of drought in the past decades. Reduced and delayed rainfall, rampant increase in temperature are threatening food security.
Drought is an extended period of abnormally low rainfall which leads to water shortages. Susceptibility to climate change can be influenced by geographical location in relation to the equator and reliance on the agriculture sector (Garcia, 2008).
Disaster droughts are capricious in terms of time, range and period. Highly characterized by rainfall less than 70 % of annual rainfall. The rainfall pattern recorded during the 2019 drought was the least, since 1891 in the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek.
Some of the countries affected by the 2018-2020 (ongoing) drought:
Sail through, as we discuss at length mitigation strategies on droughts in southern Africa.
Droughts lead to serious and compelling food security concerns
- Human and livestock food security is threatened by droughts
Grain cereal production (maize, wheat, sorghum, barley, pearl millet) has reduced significantly. Given that most animal feeds are formulated from various crops and crop residues, drought hinders animal production in southern Africa.
- Livestock farming costs increase and become unsustainable
Hefty costs on livestock production during drought has left livestock farmers running losses or almost bankrupt. Also a lot of people linked to agricultural production lose or risk losing their job.
Strategies to help counter droughts
- Government intervention
Implementation of organizations that focus on drought relief, educating communities on drought earlier, will help ease stress among farming communities, as they are prepared, especially in remote areas. Also engaging with neighboring countries could help fight drought.
- Climate change predictions
Through meteorological services, early warning systems on changes in weather and climate could help warn people in a country. In doing so, crop production can be minimized or increased depending on reports given.
- Underground water
Controlled use of underground aquifers should be promoted, as overuse may disrupt the water table or contaminate it. Information dissemination is a vital component that can sustain these natural resources.
- Cheaper feeds for livestock
Implementation of hydroponic fodder production saves up on water, transport cost and yet guaranteed of quality produce. Also bush encroachment and the utilization of invasive drought tolerant species as feed sources could provide cheaper and affordable feeding during droughts. Agricultural extension officers may help share these practices through teaching farming communities how to grow hydroponic fodder and how to use bush for feed.
- Stocking rates
Ideal stocking rates are a necessity. In order to minimize stress on the veld, or rangeland, that your herd depends on, keep a minimal number of cattle that can be sustained by the veld.
- Species to keep
Furthermore, farming with drought tolerant cattle such as the Afrikaner, in southern Africa is ideal.
- Management decisions
Market adult livestock that are not used for breeding, cull sick or weak animals, weaning calves earlier and all unproductive animals when droughts are declared. As a management component, the cost of feeding unproductive animals is reduced and focus will be on animals left on the farm.
In short, droughts can be stressful both to the farmer and animals, hence, collaborations with industries to help fight it, is highly beneficial.
- Garcia, Denise, “The climate security divide: bridging human and national security in Africa”, African Security Studies, 17 (3), 2008: 1-17.
- Drought Threatens Millions in Southern Africa
- 2018–20 Southern Africa drought