Windhoek — The debilitating droughts of the past four years may be over, but the latest Vulnerability Assessment Committee Results show that the number of people facing food shortage is around 214,170, while the population living below the livelihood protection threshold is estimated at an all-time high of 798,384 for 2017/18.
The report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that a shocking 61 percent of the rural population is food insecure. The results also show that Namibia experienced a shortfall of 167,000 tonnes of cereals this season, most of which had to be imported from South Africa.
Poverty affects more than 28 percent of the population. Stunting rates are also high at 24 percent, while the prevalence of underweight children under five years is 7.1% and the under-five mortality rate is 5%.
The effects of hunger are serious. Hunger makes the body weak and vulnerable to disease and infection. Without adequate nutrition the brain is not able to develop properly, and achieving concentration when attempting to learn becomes difficult.
Countries affected by high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition tend to suffer from poor economic performance.
The assessment stresses the importance of the creation of employment opportunities in the rural areas, and vocational training for agriculture and other related fields to combat hunger and increase food security. It also recommends the creation of more green schemes to increase food production, as well as the extension of rural electrification and extension of rural water supply services.
Subsidised animal medicines and fodder, the drilling of new boreholes and upgrading of existing boles and work programmes to enable farmers to restock after consecutive droughts are also recommended.
Namibia has developed a mid-term strategy to address poverty (the Harambee Prosperity Plan) in which the aim to end hunger is reflected through one of its goals, where Zero Hunger is one of the strategic outcomes.
In addition, a Zero Hunger Strategic Review was undertaken in 2015, which has culminated in the development of a Zero Hunger Road Map. The government is also implementing Namibia's Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), in which the achievement of food and nutritional security and a reduction in poverty are prioritised.