Food insecurity a 'pressing problem'

04 November 2019 | Disasters

Agriculture and food security are the most vulnerable and climate-sensitive sectors in Namibia, with food insecurity also remaining one of the most pressing problems facing the country.

This is according to United Nations (UN) World Food Programme country representative BaiMankay Sankoh.

In a speech read on his behalf at a multi-stakeholder dialogue on resilience-building in the context of a changing climate in Namibia held on Friday, Sankoh said the impacts are felt directly and indirectly across all sectors.

Sankoh said food insecurity in the country can be explained by a set of interrelated factors, including climate change variability, climate-related disasters, food price fluctuations and market dynamics.

He added food insecurity is one of the most pressing problems in Namibia.

Sankoh said understanding the ways in which climate risks affect vulnerability and livelihoods is a critical step towards identifying appropriate mechanisms for intervention.

“Currently the government and partners are spending millions of Namibian dollars to respond to drought, which results from negative climate change effects. The majority of those affected are communities that highly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Therefore, building resilience is critical for government and for us all as a means of minimising climate change impacts,” Sankoh said.

He said building climate resilience is therefore a highly comprehensive undertaking that involves an array of actors and agents.

“A climate resilient Namibia is one where we need to act together to support the prosperity and well-being of Namibia and beyond, by building the resilience of communities, the economy and the environment that is responsive to a fast-changing climate.”

Sankoh said government, businesses, partners, communities and individuals all have a role to play.

He said individuals and businesses are generally best-placed to manage the climate risks associated with their homes and commercial assets.

“Governments - on behalf of the community - are responsible for managing risks to public goods and assets (including the environment), government service delivery and creating the institutional, market and regulatory environment that supports and promotes resilience.”

Sankoh said the process of resilience building will require a strong early warning system and detailed regional and national risk profiles.

He said these will provide the basis through which the national resilience strategy will be developed, considering the specific regional differences and needs.

The long-term objective of the dialogue session is to ensure that vulnerable populations in disaster-prone areas and biodiversity sensitive areas are resilient to shocks and climate change effects, and that they are benefitting from sustainable natural resource management practices.