Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Kavango Region

Namibia, Angola
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The Kavango Region, located in Namibia's relatively wet northeastern corner, is part of the eight per cent of the country that receives about 500 mm of rain per year—the minimum considered necessary for non-irrigated agriculture. However, because this rainfall is irregular and evaporation rates are high, it is often inadequate for successful farming. Many of the soils in this area, with low nutrients or high salinity, are also marginal for farming. Nevertheless, roughly 55 per cent of the region is used for subsistence agriculture with pearl millet being the predominant crop.

Savannah woodlands are the natural vegetation in the sandy soils surrounding Rundu, near the Okavango River. Many of the woodlands along the river were cleared for agriculture long ago. More recently, government-dug wells have enabled settlement and farming further from the river, leading to further deforestation, particularly in the dry river beds (omurambas), where the soils are better for farming.

The Namibian government considers this area an important focus of economic activity and supports many water and agricultural projects. Along with rapid development, the population of Rundu is growing at a staggering pace—911 per cent between 1981 and 1991. These images, from 1973 and 2007, show the dramatic increase in the land area cleared for agriculture (light yellow patches) around Rundu and elsewhere along the river.
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