THE Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) have declared the drought situation In Namibia and certain other member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a Red Alert.
Because of the possible humanitarian disaster that might ensue due to the persistent drought the countries included in the Red Alert along with Namibia are Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The GDACS was created in 2004 as a cooperation framework between the United Nations and the European Commission, in order to address significant gaps in information collection and analysis in the early phases of major sudden-onset disasters.
The Red Alert declaration in Namibia follows less than a week after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, informed members of the diplomatic corps in the country that more than half a million people in Namibia face food and water shortage as a result of the drought.
Deputy Prime Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah in her report referred to the recently concluded Food and Nutrition Security Monitoring Assessment report and President Hage Geingob declaring the drought as a state of National Emergency in her briefing of the various ambassadors and country representatives present during the specially convened meeting.
She shared the Namibia’s drought strategy and response plan and asked various countries for assistance.
The GDACS alert scale works on numbers from zero to three. Between zero and one, the green part of the scale, the criteria is: A confirmed drought, but no evidence of impacts or mild/intermediate impacts associated to a high coping capacity. No specific action would be envisaged by international aid providers.
Between one and two, the orange part of the scale, the criteria is: A drought with relevant impacts to the economy or assets, but not to people, at least not life threatening. National government provides aid in some form and official declarations of a drought/disaster are released. The drought reaches international media outlets. International humanitarian aid providers may be alerted, or international cooperation triggered.
Between two and three, the red part of the scale, the criteria is the same as the orange part but added to that, is very severe or life-threatening impacts to people: migrations and internal displacements, famine or starvation, violence explicitly related to water resources conflicts. International humanitarian aid is needed or has been requested or dispatched.
With the recent declaration of the Red Alert Namibia and the other the affected countries in the SADC are standing at 2.2 on the red part of the scale. This means that according to the calculations made by the joint disaster management body, the affected countries currently find themselves almost halfway between a situation of local migrations or displacement, local food insecurity and food assistance as well as possible rioting and a situation of widespread food insecurity, migrations, refugees with food and water assistance permanently needed.
For the past decade, GDACS has drawn on the collective capacity of disaster managers and information systems worldwide to facilitate international information exchange and decision-making.
The selection and alert level of natural hazards in GDACS is based on automatic impact assessment models. GDACS software continuously monitors or receives scientific data on natural hazards in order to run analytical models. Information about the location, strength and other characteristics is then used to calculate the affected area and the expected impact.
In this regard the system has calculated that the Erongo Region is currently at medium humanitarian impact risk along with Zambezi, Kavango, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa. The regions currently on high impact risk are Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Oshana, Hardap and Karas.
Since the meeting with the deputy Prime Minister Algeria joined the United States of America, India and China by pledging N$3, 7 million to the Namibian Government’s drought relief efforts.