How To Mitigate Drought in Africa

Rainfall in Africa is highly variable with the total amount of precipitation changing through the years and across the continent. Africa has an average of less than 1,000 millimeters of rain falls per year across most of the continent. Rainfall tends to decrease with distance from the equator and is insignificant in the Sahara, in eastern Somalia, and in the southwest of the continent in Namibia and South Africa. But it has become more mutable: droughts and floods are more frequent due to climate change.

Governments, industries, farmers and other citizens have to adapt to these unpredictable conditions. One of the biggest challenges to Africa’s food security is drought. This is especially true for smallholder farmers, who often have limited access to resources for responding to droughts. While resource availability varies greatly - a lack of access to clean and adequate water, as well as water-storage and irrigation infrastructure are persistent problems for many smallholders.

The experience of other countries may offer useful lessons. Not all will be viable, given Africa’s limited financial capacity. For instance, African countries cannot afford wasteful expenditure on infrastructure, so there has to be thoughtful process in the prediction of future water demand, population growth and changes in water availability.

Some arid nations have used the development of new more efficient technologies and strategies to circumvent extremely dry conditions. Australia and Israel, for example, have become more resilient through the desalination of brackish groundwater or sea water; and effluent treatment and re-use.

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