Climate Resilience and Strengthening Food Security in Namibia

Nandigolo Nakambale

Climate resilience refers to a system’s capacity – in this case, Namibia’s agricultural system – to absorb shocks and stresses caused by climate change while maintaining its essential function, which is to maintain food security.

Enhancing climate resilience in the agricultural sector is crucial for ensuring food security as a resilient system can better withstand, and recover from, climate-related disruptions.

Namibia’s arid and semi-arid climate conditions make it particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with current challenges ranging from recurrent droughts, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and rising temperatures.

All of these contribute to the degradation of arable land and water scarcity.

These climate-related challenges have severe implications for the agricultural sector, which depend heavily on rain-fed cultivation.

VULNERABILITY

Namibia’s agricultural landscape is dominated by smallholder farmers who rely on traditional farming practices.

The vulnerability of these farmers to climate change is exacerbated by factors such as limited access to modern agricultural technologies, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of financial resources.

As a result, the country faces increased food insecurity, with a significant portion of the population struggling to access sufficient and nutritious food.

Holistic measures are especially required in very dry areas such as the Kunene region where food insecurity is increasingly turning into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

One key strategy to enhance climate resilience and strengthen food security in Namibia is diversifying agriculture.

Traditional reliance on rain-fed cultivation of a few staple crops leaves the agricultural sector highly vulnerable to climate variability.

Encouraging the cultivation of a diverse range of crops well-suited to different agro-ecological zones can help mitigate the impact of climate change. Additionally, promoting drought-resistant and climate-resilient crop varieties can contribute to a more resilient agricultural system.

WATER SCARCITY

Water scarcity is a pressing issue in Namibia, exacerbated by climate change and increasing demand for water in various sectors.

Sustainable water management practices are essential for enhancing climate resilience in agriculture.

This includes investing in water harvesting techniques, efficient irrigation systems, and the rehabilitation of water sources.

Furthermore, promoting water-saving technologies and educating farmers on efficient water use can contribute to sustainable water conservation.

Integrating climate-adaptive technologies into agriculture is essential for building resilience.

Modern farming techniques such as precision farming which utilises data and technology to optimise crop yields can help minimise environmental impact. There is a need to advocate climate-smart agricultural practices, such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture, which can enhance soil health, water retention and overall resilience to climate stressors.

There is further a lack of climate education, especially among subsistence farmers who may not have access to necessary information.

Empowering farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to climate change is fundamental for enhancing resilience.

ADVOCACY

Capacity-building programmes should be diversified to rural communities and there should be a focus on educating farmers about climate-smart agricultural practices, weather forecasting and sustainable land management.

A holistic and integrated approach is necessary to address the complex and interconnected challenges of climate change and food security.
Implementing the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) has the potential to pioneer the successful implementation of climate resilience measures in Namibia.

However, it will require a supportive policy and institutional framework.

While we have good policies in place, there is a need to strengthen and prioritise implementation and advocacy including creating incentives for farmers to adopt climate-smart practices, facilitating access to climate-resilient seeds and technologies and promoting sustainable land and water management.

PROACTIVE

The nexus of climate change and food security is critical to the livelihoods of the Namibian people.

The government’s commitment through Vision 2030, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), supported by regional and international collaborations and the active participation of local communities, the private sector and civil society, is pivotal in realising a future of climate resilience and food security.

As Namibia takes strides towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector, enhancing climate resilience will contribute to overall regional efforts on bringing back food security to Africa by demonstrating that proactive measures can pave the way for a more secure and sustainable future.

  • * Nandigolo Nakambale is a climate advocate and the executive director of Future Africa International Namibia; nandi@futureafricainternational.org

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