In 2013, a national drought emergency was declared in Namibia, with roughly 37 per cent of the population considered at high risk. In the Okarukoro area of north-eastern Namibia, for example, there has been no rain for three years.
Okarukoro is normally arid and the Himba people living there have, for generations, been relying on livestock – breeding and selling, and living off dairy produce. But, after these years of drought, the cattle have died. Only a few small goats remain.
The prolonged drought means that people in the area now eat only one meal a day; children are suffering, and cases of malnutrition and starvation are increasing.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in its fourth assessment report: “By 2020, some countries’ yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent. Agricultural production, including access to food, is projected to be severely compromised in many African countries. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition.”
Sadly, Namibia is not the only country facing the challenges of severe drought. In Angola in 2013, 1.8 million people were estimated to be suffering severe food insecurity.
IPCC climate scientists map both countries as likely to suffer increasingly from heatwaves, disease-carrying vectors, drought and agricultural problems.
The ACT response to this situation was based on assessments made with communities and local government representatives.
In Angola, ACT members distributed food rations in hard-hit communities.
In Namibia, unconditional cash grants were distributed, allowing those affected to make their own choices about what best met their dietary needs. Cash grants are known to give households fast access to the items they most need. They were given on a per capita basis through a cash card to every caregiver.
The response is being closely monitored to document impact. The benefits of cash grants include low administration and logistics costs.
In both countries, ACT members worked to train the affected communities on emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction. And in Namibia, ACT trained community leaders on rights-based approaches and advocacy strategies for work with local governments