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Namibia Faces Worst Drought in 30 Years, President Says Climate Change to Blame [VIDEO]

Aug 12, 2013 04:17 PM EDT

Namibia's worst drought in three decades has left roughly one-third of the country's population moderately or severely food insecure, reports the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Bearing the brunt of the burden are women and children, the international agency explains, as many are forced to sell their livestock and migrate to the cities in search for work as the summer rains have failed to flood the country's plains for the second year in a row.

"Children are going to bed hungry," Namibian Kariamakuju Kautu said, according to a UNICEF report. "They wake up in the morning, and they are not eating anything. The children are fainting because of hunger."

Like many others, Kauta says her supply of maize is nearly gone and she is not sure how she will feed her family in the coming weeks.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a state of emergency as early as May, explaining that crop yields were expected to come in around 50 percent below average due to the dry weather.

"It has now been established that climate change is here to stay and humanity must find ways and means of mitigating its effect," he announced to the world at the time, committing roughly $21 million to addressing the situation in addition to calling upon for assistance from the international community.

Already the government is distributing maize to all 13 regions and plans on drilling boreholes and even trucking water where necessary, UNICEF reports. However, while the organization has appealed for $7.4 million to respond to the needs of the estimated 109,000 children under 5 years old at risk of malnutrition, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management Hellen Likanda said it's clear that the situation is facing "a significant funding gap."

Going forward, UNICEF Namibia Represenative Micaela Marques de Sousa explained that "in addition to supporting the government and key partners like the Namibian Red Cross, we are focusing on making sure communities have access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, that communities are educated about nutrition and early infant feeding and that school attendance is being monitered."

Meanwhile, for the thousands who have given up that hope is on its way, they have little direction to look but heavenward in search of the moisture so badly needed.

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