SADC struggles with historic drought

Niël Terblanché

Across the Southern African Development Community (SADC), countries are facing an unprecedented drought crisis, marking some of the lowest rainfall levels in over four decades.

recent rains in parts, the late January and February season brought severe dry conditions, leaving Namibia and its neighbours in a desperate struggle against the shortfall.

The SADC’s Food Security Early Warning System, bolstered by insights from USAID, paints a grim picture: widespread crop wilting in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, signalling a dire season with little hope for recovery.

The impact extends beyond crops, with vegetation and water sources for livestock rapidly diminishing, reflected in over 9,000 drought-related cattle deaths across Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe from October to February 2024.

This environmental calamity is not isolated. Zambia has declared a national disaster, with President Hakainde Hichilema noting the severe dry spells affecting up to 70 percent of agricultural fields, particularly maize, in the Eastern Province.

Similarly, Zimbabwe and Madagascar are among those facing acute food insecurity, with Zimbabwe’s summer crop harvests halving compared to the previous season.

Malawi, too, confronts its worst food insecurity in a decade, oscillating between flood damage and current drought conditions.

The drought’s ripple effect touches various SADC nations, including Lesotho and parts of Angola and Mozambique, alongside Botswana and Namibia, where extensive droughts earlier this year have compounded vulnerabilities.

The call for action emphasizes integrated strategies for water resource management and urgent support for affected communities, advocating for the adoption of climate-smart technologies for sustainable production and increased resilience.

As SADC confronts this harsh reality, the crisis underscores the broader challenges of climate change and erratic weather patterns on the continent’s agriculture-dependent economies.

Efforts toward irrigation and large-scale crop production initiatives, such as “mega-farms” in Malawi, highlight potential paths forward in building resilience against future climatic adversities.

This ongoing environmental and humanitarian crisis calls for a concerted regional and global response to mitigate the immediate impacts and embark on long-term solutions to climate resilience and food security in southern Africa.

Related Posts