Khama to launch humanitarian appeal for drought victims

  • Estimated 40 million people across the SADC region affected
  • More than 23 million in urgent need of humanitarian assistance


President Ian Khama is expected to declare a regional disaster as the SADC Chairperson and launch a regional humanitarian appeal for millions hit by El Niño-induced drought next week Tuesday.
According to a statement from the SADC Secretariat, the president will launch a regional appeal for humanitarian and recovery support amounting to US$2.7 billion. “This is in response to the devastating El-Niño-induced drought which has affected an estimated 40 million people across the SADC region, and out of this figure, more than 23 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” it said.
It said the appeal is a formal request to the international community to provide assistance to affected member states, and it is meant to complement the response efforts at individual member states level, as a lot has been done by the countries.
Five member states, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are reported to have declared national drought emergencies. South Africa has declared a drought emergency in 8 of its 9 provinces, while Mozambique declared a 90-day institutional red alert for some southern and central areas.
Just last week, Khama declared 2015/16 a drought year following consideration of drought assessment tour exercise that was conducted in February and May this year. A statement from Office of the President said the exercise confirmed that rainfall was poorly distributed and was below normal in most parts of the country.
“Therefore, livelihoods of a significant number of rural households remained vulnerable and will thus be in need of government assistance in the coming months… some relief and special assistance measures will be implemented effective July 1 until June 30, 2017, save for the livestock feed subsidy, which should terminate on December 31, 2016.”
According to the statement, farmers who secured their loans from Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency and National Development Bank, the government through Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, shall invoke the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS). “This assistance will be extended to those who have paid up their contributions towards the ACGS insurance scheme.”
Government will also provide a 25 per cent livestock feed subsidy effective July 1 until December 31, 2016 through Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board. Other relief measures will be to intensify construction and maintenance of firebreaks around protected areas as well as raise budget allocations for destitution programme by 10 per cent to strengthen safety nets.