Overcoming Namibia’s worst drought in the last 40 years: Ethnographic insights from Okakarara constituency
In 2019, Namibia experienced one of the worst droughts in recent decades, significantly affecting its agricultural economy, especially the livestock production sector. In this context, there is limited literature about how pastoral farmers in the country’s communal agricultural areas navigated this severe dryness. This paper addresses this knowledge gap by introducing a case study involving Ovaherero pastoralists in the Okakarara constituency. Following a mixed-method approach, it describes the practices implemented by local households to keep their cattle herds alive, the challenges they experienced thereby, and the strategies used for recovering their livestock losses. The study reveals that essential drought-coping practices, such as livestock mobility along with various long-term risk reduction mechanisms, such as reservation of emergency pastures, and social institutions of exchange, are limited in the communities described in this research. The paper discusses the main reasons for these conditions and their implications for local farmers, considering that more frequent droughts of similar severity are projected for the coming years in the region.