The climate is influenced by the cold Benguela current that flows northwards from southwest and the warm tropical winds from Angola (Global Climate Report, 2017). As a result of rainfall variability events, rural households suffer in a number of different ways. With the majority of rural households depending on agricultural activities for livelihoods, rainfall variability effects pose a major threat to food security. Therefore, adapting to rainfall variability is an important priority to protect and improve the livelihoods of rural households and to ensure food security in Namibia.
1.1 Problem statement
Namibians have been witnessing changes in climatic conditions over the past 13 years and this has brought serious socio-economic consequences. In 2008 the country experienced floods in the northern regions, Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions that have killed about 42 people and displaced around 65000 (Namibia Red Cross Society, 2009). The floods have been pronounced in the area much more frequent since then with a few occurrences of droughts in between. In 2015, the region experienced droughts that affected about 300 000 people and weakened household food security, which saw N$916 million spent by government towards drought relief from April 2015 to March 2016 (Chamwe, 2016). Despite the governmental support, complaints of food insecurity have emerged as a result of unfair access to food assistance (FAO, 2016).
Throughout history, Omusati region has been considered vulnerable to changes in climate conditions as it is situated in the heart of Cuvelai drainage basin. The Cuvelai drainage basin is an area that consists of channels that join and separate many times and has no outlet to the sea. The climate within the drainage basin is semi-arid and impacted by high rainfall variability which leads to regular droughts and floods. Despite technological advances that modernized the conditions of food production in response to rainfall variability, many people in Omusati region are still struggling to adopt new ways of food production to sustain their livelihood. The region’s households rely on agricultural activities for food, however the experienced rainfall variability events of drought and floods have reduced the capacity of various households to cope with the impacts and increased their risk to food insecurity.
The socioeconomic consequences of climate variability in Omusati region gave a great emphasis to the need for trend analysis of rainfall variation in the region. Hence, the study attempts to analyze the observed and measured changes in rainfall and to what extend it has influenced the production and availability of food to rural households. Onkila village, like other villages in Omusati region is highly susceptible to rainfall variability and the livelihoods of residents depend on rain fed agriculture and livestock rearing. Furthermore, the residents of Onkila village have limited livelihood options and employment opportunities thereby depending only on activities that are sensitive to the impacts of rainfall variability. Thus, this made the village vulnerable to food insecurities and unstable livelihoods as any change in rainfall will mean an increased food insecurity.