23 October 2017

Namibia: 37 Percent of Namibians Hungry and Undernourished

Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
A child has a meal at a food distribution centre in the Rwanda camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), near Tawila, North Darfur. More than 8,000 women and children living in the camp benefit from nutrition programmes run by the World Food Programme (WFP).

THE prevalence of undernourishment in Namibia was last measured at 37% in 2016, while 24% of children under the age of five are stunted.

The United Nations' resident coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative, Kiki Gbeho, revealed this at the World Food Day commemoration at Stampriet, in Hardap region, last week.

She urged Namibians to recommit themselves to the war on poverty while marking the day, which is commemorated each year to raise awareness on issues of food security.

"Ask what more you can do for Nami-bians who still live in poverty," Gbeho said.

This year's World Food Day was marked under the theme 'Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development'. Gbeho said roughly 41 000 people migrated to different regions in Namibia in 2010 and 2011.

Currently, 43% of Namibians live in urban areas.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) director general, Jose Gra-ziano, said in his message, read by Gbeho, that in most cases people leave impoverished rural areas in search of more productive opportunities elsewhere.

"Indeed, migration has since our earliest days been essential to the human story the source of multiple economic and cultural benefits. But when migration is out of extreme need, distress and despair, it becomes another story," he stated.

The FAO director general noted that forced migration was rooted in conflicts, political instability, extreme poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change. Graziano added that the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition report indicated that 815 million people suffered from hunger in 2016, an increase of 38 million people, compared to 2015.

He said all-inclusive rural development can help on all fronts, curbing conflict, boosting sustainability and making migration a matter of choice rather than desperation.

"Decent employment opportunities, which can be generated by productive agriculture and supporting activities ranging from seed research and credit provision, to storage infrastructure and food processing businesses, are urgently needed to convince a fast-growing number of young people in rural areas that there are better fates than hazardous journeys to unknown destinations," he stated, adding that the FAO was working to address the root causes of migration.

This means promoting policy options that favour vulnerable people.

Agriculture minister John Mutorwa, in a speech read on his behalf by permanent secretary Percy Misika, said there were indications that rural-to-urban migration in Namibia was escalating.

Mutorwa said projections by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) indicate that the rate of urbanisation is expected to rise from 43% to 67% by 2024.

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