July 8, 2005

Mogae declares drought

President Festus Mogae has declared Botswana drought-stricken. In a televised address to the nation, Mogae said the level of rainfall during the last season was below normal throughout the country. He said the recorded rain was also poorly distributed in terms of planting circles, leading to less land ploughed and widespread crop failure. He said the total areas ploughed countrywide represented less than a quarter of Botswana's cultivable land. "This year's total cereal production is now estimated at about 19.000 metric tonnes, about 10 percent of the national requirement and less than half of the 46.000 metric tonnes produced during 2003/04," he said. "While livestock conditions are generally fair in most, though certainly not all, parts of our country, deterioration can be expected in the coming months." Mogae also expressed concern about the water quality in about 20 percent of Botswana's villages with water supply systems. He said although augmentation measures have been instituted and the situation needs to be closely monitored so as to ensure a timely response to any adverse developments.
The relief measures that have been put in place include among others the mobilisation of a labour intensive public works programme, provision of supplementary feeding for children, provision of a second meal for the Remote Area Dwellers' children who attend school, free seed be distributed to a maximum of five hectares per farmer in the communal and a 25 percent price subsidy on selected cattle feeds. "Our National Strategy for Poverty Reduction further recognises that well targeted social safety nets need to be instituted to provide social welfare support to vulnerable groups. The strategy also ties livelihoods to rehabilitation and social investment to ensure that individuals take advantage of opportunities. It is therefore incumbent upon every Motswana, particularly those who benefit from relief measures, to recognise that such interventions, although temporary, are quite costly," Mogae said. (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone)


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