Drought and loss in Namibia

Desert drought. Image: Marion, Pixabay

This first hand account from Namibia about climate change and the grief it causes there is reproduced from IAFN’s 2020 newsletter.

My name is Nangula Eva-Liisa Kathindi, an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Namibia. I live in Oshakati, northern Namibia. I am one of the first two women who were ordained priests in the Anglican Diocese of Namibia in 1994. Currently I am supervising six parishes in northern Namibia and coordinating a Diocesan School for Ministries, guiding people to discern their vocation to ministry.

Namibia’s climate is mostly subtropical; a desert climate characterised by great differences in day and night time temperatures. It has a low rainfall and overall low humidity.

In Namibia we experience winter and summer at opposite times to Europe and North America and they correspond to the dry and wet seasons. It is in this context that I am writing about the challenges our country faces with climate change. As far as I can remember drought has always been part of our lives. There was hardly a year when farmers were not concerned about their crops and how to save their animals from dying from hunger and lack of water.

In 2019 we experienced the worst drought. The whole of Namibia did not receive much rain for people to grow crops. Only a few areas have been able to harvest some crops. Rural church communities could not celebrate in style the usual harvest thanksgiving due to the lack of their own produce. They had to buy goods from local grocers for a thanksgiving service.

Historically some men in my culture have succumbed to death because of the loss of their cattle. Doctors and chaplains from our hospitals have shared their experiences that male patients enumerate their dead cattle instead of stating bodily ailments. Counselling such patients has been very challenging.

Ecumenical prayers for rain have been organised especially in the bread basket of the country. Climate grief is now as prevalent as grief caused by gender-based violence. This has posed serious theological and ethical questions for the Church.