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Statement on drought declaration, Botswana, 2007
May 2007
Mr Festus G Mogae
Government of Botswana


Bagaetso, as you will be aware, in the 2006/2007 rainy season, we had very little rain in most parts of the country and, in areas that had good rains, it came late.

Consequently, ploughing and planting commenced late. Dry spells between rainfall events and high rates of moisture loss due to high temperatures further resulted in low hectarage planted, as well as poor crop germination. The total area planted, under both Communal and Commercial sub-sectors, is approximately 72 000 hectares, which is only 22% of the total cultivable land. Total cereal production is estimated at 31,000 tonnes, comprising about 92% from the Commercial sub-sector and 8% from the Communal sub-sector. This production will meet only about 10% of the estimated national requirement of 322,245 metric tonnes for major cereals (sorghum, millet, maize and wheat).

With respect to grazing and water for livestock, the situation varies from district to district, but grazing is likely to deteriorate. This will necessitate supplementary feeding of livestock. I therefore, urge you all to take necessary measures to reduce incidences of veldt fires which would further aggravate the impact of drought, particularly on livestock and wildlife.

Bagaetsho, it is encouraging to note that some of the drought relief interventions Government instituted previously have borne fruit. The overall nutritional status of children under the age of five continued to improve between 2004 and 2006. Total malnutrition declined from 6.6% in 2004 to 5.2% in 2006. Notwithstanding this improvement, the anticipated decrease in household food availability due to drought could increase the risk of malnutrition in children. In this regard, we will have to maintain the blanket Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme.

While there has been an improvement in the general human water supply situation countrywide, it is however, worth noting that there was little or no in-flow into dams in the southern part of the country during the 2006/07 rainy season. The dam water levels are dwindling and need to be monitored closely. It is for this reason that I urge all Batswana to use water sparingly and to employ water conservation technologies.

Even though the rural villages' water supply is still stable, with all the gazetted 419 villages and 91 settlements receiving water supply, about 106 of these may face the threat of inadequate supply or water quality problems.

Bagaetsho, in light of these drought conditions, I have decided to declare the whole country drought stricken. Government will therefore implement the following drought relief measures effective from 1st June 2007 to 30th April 2008:

  1. Drought Relief Labour Intensive Public Works Programme for both Government and the Districts;
  2. The wage rates for the Drought Relief Labour Based Public Works Programme be increased from P10.00 to P15.00 for labourers and P16.00 to P20.00 for supervisors per six hour working day.
  3. Supplementary Feeding should be provided to all children under-five years attending Child Welfare Clinics.
  4. Supplementary Feeding be provided to children aged from 5 to 6 years.
  5. A second meal be provided for the Remote Area Dwellers' children who attend school.
  6. Provision of 50% price subsidy on seed for a maximum of 5 hectares per farmer in the communal sub-sector.
  7. Provision of 25% price subsidy on selected livestock supplements, namely; Drought Pellets, Winter Lick, Di-calcium phosphate, Coarse Salt/Rock Salt and Molasses.
  8. Timely maintenance of fire breaks and formation of standby fire fighting teams comprising people engaged in the Labour Intensive Public Works.
Batswana betsho, let me emphasise, as I have done before, that drought relief interventions are temporary and costly, and further that our country continues to face other development challenges such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These exert tremendous pressure on the limited resources that would otherwise be used for other developmental needs. Nonetheless, Government is committed to supporting those areas of the economy which are vulnerable such as the agricultural sector and to improving poverty alleviation schemes for the needy.

I also wish to appeal to you compatriots, to continue to foster our Vision 2016 ideals of being a caring and compassionate society. Let us also do whatever we can do for ourselves in this difficult drought conditions. I also wish to point out to those charged with implementing drought relief projects to ensure that implementation commences on time and monitoring of projects is intensified and improved for efficient and effective execution. Supervision has to be rigorous and robust at all times lest we compromise vital services to Batswana. Any laxity will be dealt with sternly.

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