By Ntokozo Nkambule
The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) held the El Niño Indaba Impact Strategic Response Planning Workshop today.
The Indaba was meant to strategically plan how the country can successfully mitigate the imminent El Nino effects so that it does not wreak havoc like the one witnessed in the 2015/16 year(s).
Upon conclusion of the Indaba, NDMA will then present a mitigation plan to the government in an effort to mitigate the impact of El Nino.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), El Niño is the warming phase of water temperatures around the Pacific Equator.
During El Niño episodes the normal patterns of tropical precipitation and atmospheric circulation are disrupted, hence triggering extreme climate events around the globe: droughts, floods, and affecting the intensity and frequency of hurricanes.
The Minister of Economic Planning & Development, Dr. Tambo Gina when making his presentation noted that preparation and putting mitigating measures in place is critical.
“The previous El Nino drought led to major losses in the agriculture, sector, diminished water supply, and significantly affected national food security and a cumulative estimated cost of E3.843 billion to the economy, which is equivalent to 7.01% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2016 or 18.58% of government expenditure.”
The Minister urged the country to come together and formulate a comprehensive plan of mitigation.
“It is critical that as a country we put our heads together at the mention of a looming El Nino and enhance our preparedness actions to mitigate the negative impacts associated with the slightest El Nino episode.”
NDMA Chief Executive Officer, Russell Dlamini noted that as an agency they have already started with mitigating initiatives.
Dlamini was, however, optimistic about the time frame regarding mitigating the upcoming drought.
“We, fortunately, have time on our side as we have had good rains from the previous years. We have also already issued an Advisory, which provides guidelines on what the country should do and guard against regarding the upcoming drought.”
The CEO further revealed that they will present their drought mitigation plan to the government by the end of the month.
He was however concerned by the possibility of financial challenges.
“Our challenge in most cases is the issue of funds, because ordinarily when a plan is presented, funding should then be availed to ensure that we start with our mitigation drive and campaign. Another major challenge is that most global disaster management agencies only release funds when the disaster has erupted or when we are in a crisis situation.”
When asked about when the drought will likely hit the country, the CEO said it is hard to say but their predictions are that it will take place in the last quarter of the year. Dlamini noted that what is key to note about a drought is that it envelopes gradually and has different life spans.
In terms of the severity of the drought, the CEO said it is tough to say at this point if it will be severe or mild, but indicators show that it could be severe.