1,5m Namibians cannot afford healthy meal

Photo: Contributed.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, in their latest reports released yesterday, said about 1,5 million people in Namibia could not afford a healthy diet in 2021 and 2020.

This has increased since 2017 when 1,3 million could not afford a healthy diet.

The cost of a healthy diet is estimated at N$70,20 (U$3,76).

A further 57,7% experienced moderate or severe food insecurity last year.

This comes as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimates that 239 000 people will experience high levels of acute food insecurity between April and August.

“The impact of the conflict in Ukraine/Russia is predicted to lessen during Namibia’s post-harvest season, and above-average production is anticipated in South Africa,” IPC said.

Household food security has taken a major hit across most parts of the country, according to a food security situation report released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform for March.

The report highlights a decrease in agricultural production during the 2021/22 season, attributed to dry spells and the early cessation of rainfall, resulting in a depletion of food stocks in many households.

Communal crop-producing regions have been hit the hardest, with many households relying on the market and drought-relief food.

This has left many vulnerable to food insecurity as the available stocks are expected to be depleted before the next harvest.

On Monday, the FAO said an estimated 390 000 people faced acute food insecurity in the January to March 2023 period.

“[This is] lower than the figure in the corresponding period of 2022. High food prices and localised weather induced shortfalls in cereal production in 2022 were the key drivers,” they said in their quarterly crop prospects report.

The adversely affected cereal crops in southern Angola and across northern Namibia are experiencing extensive crop wilting and reducing yields.

“Total cereal production in Namibia is, however, estimated to be slightly above the five-year average in 2023, as a large outturn from the commercial sector, mostly irrigated maize, is estimated to have compensated for reduced harvests of millet and sorghum, mainly grown by small-scale farmers,” the FAO added.

Namibia has been hit hard by severe food insecurity, with an estimated 376 000 people experiencing a food crisis, according to a recent report by the World Food Programme (WFP).

This represents 14% of the country’s population, with 6 000 of those people at emergency level.

WFP’s acute food insecurity analysis, conducted between September and December 2022, found that the Kavango East, Kavango West, Kunene, Omaheke, and Oshikoto regions were at crisis level.

The analysis was carried out in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister.

“This period encompassed the first half of Namibia’s lean season, when prices started to rise and most households would have used up their production stocks,” the report reads.

Despite the statistics painting a gloomy picture, WFP said last year’s situation was better compared to that of 2021.

“This was a significant improvement in the country’s food security situation.”

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