Botswana tackles worst drought in 30 years

Jul 30, 2015 12:00 AM

Botswana has allocated emergency funds in response to the worst drought conditions in 30 years with agricultural land badly hit by the lack of irrigation, the government said.

A special budget of about $44 million (40 million euros) was passed by parliament on Wednesday after President Ian Khama declared a general countrywide drought, the first since 1984.

"In general it is a bad year. That is why we can not categorise the drought by each village and town like we have in the past," deputy agriculture minister Fidelis Molao told.

The relief funds will be used to support livestock farmers, who have been encouraged to reduce their animal numbers due to lack of grassland.

New vehicles will also be bought to help fight bush fires, as well as more cash provided for urgent irrigation projects and extra meals for children suffering malnutrition.

A sharp decline in rainfall and a heatwave has caused a dramatic 70 percent drop in land under cultivation.

Molao said that Botswana, one of Africa's most stable countries and home to a profitable diamond mining industry, should be able to cope with the drought using its own resources.

The country last suffered drought in 2013, but the impact then was not as widespread.

Domestic food production has gone down in almost every country in the southern African region due to floods and droughts over the past growing season which ended in the first quarter of the year.

Millions of people are expected to face food shortages by year end and will require food aid in some of the worst affected countries including Malawi, Zimbabwe as well as Botswana.

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