(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Climate change threatens food security

The Namibian government is “very worried” by a set of reports that suggest the agriculture-dependent country is extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change, threatening food security and development goals in an already fragile environment.

“The government takes this issue of climate change extremely seriously,” Peter Tarr at the directorate of environmental affairs told IRIN on Tuesday. “It’s the first time that we have exposed ourselves to the reality of climate change.”

Three reports by the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN), the country’s first-ever studies into the impact of climate change, were last week presented to the Minister of the Environment, Philemon Malima. They confirmed what more generalised analysis over recent years had suggested:

Namibia’s already largely arid climate is expected to grow dryer, warmer and more variable.

The studies, based on existing data, highlight a trend of declining rainfall since the mid-1960s and rising temperatures. According to David Cole, the DRFN project coordinator, Namibia is projected to lose its self-sufficiency in water supplies by the year 2015.

“We are a fragile environment and it is evident that this is going to be exacerbated by climate change,” Cole told IRIN.

A series of recent droughts have already resulted in the influx of rural people into the cities, putting pressure on scarce resources. The DRFN’s findings call for the government to factor in the impact of climate change into national planning and policies.

That includes strategies which promote traditional drought-resistant crops, and a more pro-active stance through international mechanisms such as the global conventions on climate change and desertification.

“We need to concentrate on developing a strategy to actually address these issues,” Cole said.

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