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Drought: Below-average rainfall threatens Botswana’s livelihood

Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared the 2023-2024 an “extreme agricultural drought year”.

He made declaration after considering a report on the recently ended Drought and Household Food Security Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis.

The report indicated that the rainy season from October 2023 to March 2024 was exceptionally dry, with below-average rainfall throughout the entire country.

It noted further that February was particularly harsh, with the country experiencing the driest conditions since 1980, leading to critically low water levels in reservoirs, and major rivers.

It said that the rivers such as Thamalakane and Chobe experienced lowest water levels in a decade.

“The delayed rains and extended dry spells have severely impacted crops, with most wilting and failing early.

The area planted for this season fell 36 per cent compared to the previous year.

“The total output is expected to meet only six per cent of the country’s need of 300,000 metric tonnes,” it observed.

It also noted that at the time of assessment, grazing conditions had started to show signs of deterioration across the country, with limited surface water availability in some areas.

“An estimated 16,000 heads of livestock died as a result of drought”, said Gaba Mogapi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Dry conditions and high temperatures have forced wild animals to travel long distances for water, resulting in human-wildlife conflict, the report analysed.

“More than 1,170 fires have also been reported around the country, affecting about 855,861 hectares of land”, Mogapi said.


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