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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Drought causing critical food shortages

The most serious drought in 30 years is draining Namibia this season, with worst-case estimations warning that up to 778,000 people are facing critical food shortages. The northern region of the African nation, notoriously arid even in plentiful times, has not seen rain in over two years. Since over a third of the country's citizens survive through subsistence farming (i.e. the only food they eat is what they grow and raise for themselves), a continued drought will be cataclysmic.

Both UNICEF, the International Red Cross, and the Red Crescent Societies are requesting millions of dollars to combat the crisis, with UNICEF warning that, "the threat of hunger, malnutrition, disease and lost livelihoods is growing." With a population of only 2.1 million, the number mentioned above represents roughly one-third of Namibia's people; if that worst-case were to play out it would eviscerate the nation on multiple levels.

The Bank of Namibia has issued a report warning that the drought will reverberate beyond agricultural markets, adversely affecting the entire economy. The threat of food shortages combined with an economic downturn could lead to rampant unrest and virulent illnesses; while Namibia's stature has grown beyond third-world status in recent years, its not-to-distant history of mass-poverty and civil conflict causes grave concerns about the potential reaction to a sustained drought.

Namibia's economy especially thrives on ecotourism from the West, thus outbreaks in violence and disease could destroy its standing. The nation sits on the southwest coast of the continent, sharing a border with the nation of South Africa, and is known for its alluring accommodations and exotic animal reserves.

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