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Botswana declares 2013/14 as drought year


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The government in Botswana has declared 2013/14 a drought year, blaming inadequate rainfall across the country and prompting widespread fear of food scarcities in rural areas where drought-caused mortalities have been reported.
This bleak picture follows the Drought Assessment Tour Exercise conducted from April to May 7 this year.

A statement from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on Tuesday claimed rainfall was poorly distributed and has been much below normal in most parts of the country.

The government said in view of the overall deterioration of the situation it was declaring the whole country to be drought stricken.

“Although there area planted was highest (348 820 ha. at the time of the assessment) as compared to last year (345 000 ha.), the long dry spells between rainfall and the high rate of moisture loss due to normal temperature, resulted in very poor crop conditions. As such total, cereal production estimates are very low and this will negatively affect household food security” the government said.

The release also stated that the grazing water and livestock conditions at the time of the assessment, ranged from fair to good countrywide, hence by and large, grazing in most parts of the country was fair.

According to the statement generally grasses had not reached maturity with some already wilting due to moisture stress and the range condition expected to deteriorate rapidly as the dry season progresses, necessitating feed supplementation.

The statement further disclosed that drought-related mortalities have been reported in some parts of the country.

The overall situation in terms of nutritional indicators of children under the age of five has regressed whilst the incidence of destitution is anticipated to increase, the report warned.

It is also expressed the apprehension of the government that the anticipated poor harvest would be a source of extreme vulnerability in the nutritional status of these populations, especially young children.

“Human water supply is generally low, especially in the southern part of the country supplied from Gaborone dam which is facing a precarious situation due to the dam’s low water volume,” the report observed.

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