Assessing the readiness and recovery efforts of communal farmers towards the 2018/19 agricultural drought: A case study of Outapi Constituency in Namibia.

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


This study aimed to assess the readiness of communal farmers in the Outapi Constituency in Namibia prior to the 2018/19 agricultural drought, response approaches employed to lessen drought impacts, and post drought recovery strategies necessary for prospect preparation and recovery. Literature shows that better projection in disaster risk management is attainable if there is a timely and appropriate distribution of resources to support communal households while building resilience at the household level. To address the research objectives, a mixed-method research design that employs both qualitative and quantitative methods was chosen. A structured questionnaire was administered face-to-face to the sampled communal households from five (5) villages in the Eengolo settlement. Sampling was performed on the data sets retrieved from the Namibia Communal Land Administration System (NCLAS) by means of clustering villages, and a random sample of 50% was drawn from each village. All five (5) villages have a combined population of 227 households. A total sample size of 112 households was therefore drawn. Out of the 112 households sampled, the researcher interviewed 104 households. A deficit of 8 households was recorded, mainly linked to households occupied by individuals less knowledgeable about the 2018/19 agricultural drought under review and refusals. Both primary quantitative and qualitative data were collected through the interviews with the sampled households. Key informants (Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of Health and Social Service, Omusati Regional Council, Office of the Prime Minister, Traditional Authority, village headmen, and other community leaders) were consulted, and qualitative data were collected. Both research approaches complemented each other, which permitted a complete analysis of the readiness, response, and recovery efforts towards the 2018/19 agricultural drought. The study found that the 2018/19 agricultural drought was associated with negative impacts such as high crop failure, high livestock mortalities instigated by a lack of water, and poor grazing, which subsequently deteriorated households’ livelihoods. Results show that 71% of households relied primarily on pensions, other social grants, and subsistence farming to sustain their livelihoods. The majority of communal households (90%) relied on livestock supplementary feeds, well-preserved crop remains, and rotational grazing systems as livestock drought preparation mechanisms to supply food for livestock. All measures were implemented using early warning information. Community early warning systems that convey early warning-related information on the likelihood of the drought to households are local media (radio and newspaper), community/traditional leaders, and the community meteorological station. Communal xiv households (44%) confirmed that the early warning information systems present in the community were reliable and trusted with drought readiness, response, and recovery. The majority of households (58%) selected drought-resistant crops (pearl millet and sorghum) that strive best in harsh conditions as a mechanism for drought preparation in the aspect of crops and vegetables because they thrive well in northern communal areas. Communal households employed interventions to strengthen their coping capacities, with 78% primarily relying on existing food reserves. Conservation of soil and water management are key. The results show that 69% of households employed appropriate water management strategies. Concerning livestock management, 82% of households relied on livestock supplement fodder that was sourced privately and through emergency support by the government. Post-recovery measures employed by communal farmers were mainly to rebuild livestock herds, as specified by 72% of households, and 49% applied crop management practices. On the marketing of crops and vegetables, 99% of households cited that portions of crops and vegetables produced are for household consumption, while 80% stipulated that they do not market their crop produces. A mere 12% have access to the market, of which 10% have access to formal markets, while 2% trade on the informal market. Results on livestock marketing show that 76% of households do not market their livestock but prefer to keep them for household consumption (94%). A mere 15% have access to the market, of which 14% trade on the informal market, while 1% trade on the formal market. In conclusion, the choice of drought readiness strategies, drought intervention strategies, and post drought recovery strategies employed by communal households was assessed. The results clearly portray that communal households experienced negative drought impacts and employed appropriate mechanisms to prepare for the drought, employed interventions to cope with the drought, and employed post-drought recovery measures. Drought is known as a natural and climatic event that is inevitable, but the implementation of appropriate measures proved to be a better way of preparing communal households to cope with drought. Moreover, appropriate measures assist in creating an environment that is resilient, has the ability to recover from drought, and lessens the impacts of droughts. Having presented key issues related to the drought readiness, response, and recovery efforts of communal farmers with implications, it is worthy to formulate recommendations focusing on policy strategy and supplementary sustainable strategies aimed at addressing identified implications. xv A number of recommendations were formulated that will assist communal farmers and allied stakeholders in strengthening household drought coping capacity, institutional response, recovery, and building resilience. The study recommends the following: the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, the Namibia Agronomic Board, and Ministry of Industrialization and Trade, supplemented by efforts from the Constituency Councillor,should explore and create new market access and reinforcement of existing markets by communal farmers. This is vital because most communal households grow crops and vegetables and rear livestock mainly for household consumption, while others lack market access information. Communal farmers with large herds of livestock are highly advised to apply destocking, as this will assist in keeping a reasonable herd that is easier to manage with available resources during the drought. It is vital that coordination among institutions that are directly involved in the administration, coordination, and implementation of the National Disaster Management System in Namibia be strengthened. This study recommends that there is an urgent need to establish sufficient water harvesting infrastructures with the aim of complementing GRN efforts in addressing access to water in the community. As part of legislation review, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform should finalise the review of the National Drought Policy and Strategy of 1997. Communal households should consider the creation of a fodder bank, either at an individual household or community level. A post drought evaluation assessment of the whole response by communal households and key institutions that were actively involved in the response and preparation phase, such as GRN, the Red Cross, the World Food Programme, FAO, and UNICEF should be conducted to draw realistic recommendations that will assist with future improvements. Finally, the study recommends the establishment of a GRN drought recovery programme for communal households. In this case, the GRN, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Traditional Authorities, Village Headmen, and the Regional Council, should continuously identify, update, and profile vulnerable communal households, as this will ensure that post drought recovery assistance is rolled out to the most destitute households.


Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Natural Resources Management (09MNRM) at the Namibia University of Science and Technology


Drought, Communal farmers, Household, Livelihood, Readiness, Response, Recovery


Aileka, G. (2023). Assessing the readiness and recovery efforts of communal farmers towards the 2018/19 agricultural drought: A case study of Outapi Constituency in Namibia [Unpublished Master's thesis]. Namibia University of Science and Technology.