Half of Namibians can't afford a healthy diet

15 July 2020 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The number of hungry people in Namibia has increased by 100 000 in over a decade, according to a United Nations report. However, there are also now more obese adults in the country.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, released on Monday, said half of Namibia's 2.5 million population cannot afford a healthy diet.

It also estimates that almost 690 million people globally were undernourished (or hungry) in 2019, up by 10 million from 2018.

The report, which is considered the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition, said the number of undernourished people in Namibia increased from 300 000 in 2004/06 to 400 000 in 2017/19. Meanwhile, more Namibian adults have become obese during this period, the report said.

The prevalence of obesity in the adult population (18 and older) grew from 15.7% to 17.2%, bringing the total number of obese adults in Namibia to 200 000 in 2019.



Expanding quickly

According to the report, the hungry are the most numerous in Asia, but expanding the fastest in Africa.

Across the world, the report forecasts that the coronavirus pandemic could push over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020.

In percentage terms, Africa is the hardest hit region and becoming more so, with 19.1% of its people undernourished.

At the current trends, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than half of the world's chronically hungry.

In Namibia, the report estimated that 800 000 people were chronically hungry by 2019.

While the report said it is too soon to assess the full impact of the lockdown and other containment measures, it estimates that a minimum of 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million people, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of economic recession triggered by the pandemic.

The latest estimates are that a staggering three billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet.

In sub-Saharan Africa, this is the case for 57% of the population, and in Namibia, for 49.2%, the report said.



Cost of a healthy diet

The report presented evidence that a healthy diet costs far more than US$ 1.90 (N$31.82) a day, the international poverty threshold.