2013 - Drought



©UNICEFNamibia/2014/G. Williams

Namibia is the most arid country south of the Sahara and prone to droughts, floods and outbreaks of water-borne diseases. The frequency and severity of droughts and floods have increased over the years. Though the majority of Namibian households (87%) have access to clean water, water is particularly scarce in the dry northern regions and disparities in access to safe drinking water persist. Namibia is also faced with a sanitation crisis, and has one of the highest rates of open defecation in southern Africa.

To respond to emergencies in Namibia, UNICEF helps to strengthen community capacity to detect and manage cases of child malnutrition and promote healthy hygiene and sanitation practices. The aim is to increase family resilience to shock sand disasters and reduce the impact of droughts and floods on child survival and development. The UNICEF country office in Namibia also closely collaborates with the country office in Angola on disease surveillance and population movements.



2013 - Drought

drought emergency 2013 namibia
©UNICEFNamibia/2013/Jordi Matas

On Friday 17 May, President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a national emergency due to widespread drought in Namibia.

The drought situation is affecting all 13 regions in Namibia, and the impact is being manifested by death of livestock, failure of crops, reduced economic activities and declines in human health. Children are particularly at risk of worsening health and nutritional status due to existing vulnerability.

Situation of Children and Women

Namibia is currently experiencing a severe drought following almost three decades of low seasonal rainfall and a second year of failed rains in some locations.  An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) identified 778,504 people (37 per cent of the population) directly affected, including 109,000 children under the age of 5 who require urgent support.

Against a backdrop of underlying fragility, including pre-existing high levels of food insecurity and maternal and child under-nutrition (29% national stunting) combined with low sanitation coverage (14% in rural areas), children and women are particularly at risk of worsening health and nutrition status given the current drought conditions.

While the Government has responded with interim measures providing (unfortified) maize meal for each region, the lack of community-based malnutrition screening and treatment, as well as targeted support for young children’s nutritional needs is a critical gap.

The impact of the drought will continue to unfold through the remainder of 2013 and the numbers of affected children and households is likely to increase through March 2014 when the next crop cycle should be harvested.


UNICEF is committed to supporting the Government of the Republic of Namibia in all stages of an emergency; preparedness, response and recovery.

In the context of the Drought Emergency declared by the President on May 17, UNICEF’s support has been directed to the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management within the office of the Prime Minister.

UNICEF has provided technical assistance to develop, implement and monitor the Drought Relief Plan. The specific areas supported by UNICEF are nutrition; maternal, newborn and child health; water, sanitation and hygiene promotion; child protection; and education.

In addition to the assistance provided to the Government of Namibia, UNICEF also partners with civil society organisations to support implementation of community based nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions.

Specific to the current drought emergency, UNICEF is supporting the Government’s response plans in nutrition and WASH to improve access to clean water, hygiene practices and community identification and treatment of acute malnutrition.

Priority Interventions

  • Community-based early detection of acute malnutrition amongst children 6-59 months and pregnant and lactating women, to ensure early referral to health services for treatment.
  • Household nutrition assessment data collection system, which involves training volunteers to screen for and report on incidence of acute malnutrition amongst children 6-59 months of age
  • Provision of micronutrient powder for all children aged 6-59 months to prevent further deterioration of nutritional status and to complement Government’s distribution of food parcels.
  • Supporting access to clean water through household water treatment, promotion of hygiene and sanitation at the community level
  • Installation of water tanks near schools to provide access to Government-trucked clean water
  • Building the capacity of regional and district government bodies, NGOs, and CSOs in assessment of water and sanitation needs, immediate response and reporting.



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