Lack of reliable data on droughts hampers risk reduction efforts

10 Jun 2019

A fresh report on global disaster risk says Botswana does not have reliable data on droughts that could inform mitigation strategies and this will likely pose a "hidden danger" to the country.

The report comes just weeks after Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi declared 2018-2019 a drought year following consideration of the drought and household food security assessment and analysis report.

According to the report, Botswana does not have “systematic monitoring” meaning that the country’s ability to impede a drought is fundamentally undetectable even though the effects of droughts are well documented in agricultural production.

“Botswana currently has insufficient drought risk models. Whilst Famine Early Warning System (FEWS Net) are able to demonstrate how drought risk can be modelled when data is obtainable, there is not sufficient data to do this at a national scale,” states part of the report.

Metereologist Tshephang Seboni told SUNDAY STANDARD that it will take Botswana years of work to finally acquire a global risk model for drought. “Whilst there is still no way of globally assessing risk, droughts have caused terrible effects in this country — reducing crop yields and in some places causing crop failure for our farmers,” she says.

Amongst other things, the report states that Botswana must increase drought surveillance and watch its effects on food security. According to the report some of the catalysts for drought risk include inappropriate soil and water management, urbanisation and industrialisation.

"As long as Botswana fails to come up with a clear connection between drought identification and drought response, the risk of prevalentimpacts of drought will continue," states the report.