Food insecurity on the rise

Seventeen percent of Namibia’s population currently faces acute food insecurity; one reason for this is the impact of Covid-19 on households.

20 October 2020 | Health

ERWIN LEUSCHNER

SWAKOPMUND

More than 400 000 Namibians need food aid.

This figure was announced by George Fedha, Namibia’s World Food Programme (WFP) representative, when he called on President Hage Geingob last week.

According to Fedha, the programme has so far distributed food worth N$3 million to eight regions of the country: Kunene, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi and Omaheke.

“We support those who need urgent help first, namely women, children and people who receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment,” he told the president.

The figure quoted by Fedha corresponds to that published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

In a recently published report by the IPC, the number of Namibians currently faced with acute food insecurity is given as 428 000, of which 14 000 of are in absolute dire straits. This corresponds to 17 percent of the population.

Worsening

By March 2021, this number is expected to rise to 441 000 people, which in turn corresponds to 20 percent of the population.

The IPC report cites three main reasons for this crisis: Flooding in some northern areas during the past rainy season; poor rains in other parts of the country; and the economic impact of Covid-19 measures.

All of these would have led to food insecurity in Namibia.

The Kunene, Erongo, Khomas, Ohangwena, Kavango-West, Omaheke and Zambezi regions are particularly hard hit.

Exact information on the situation in Erongo is not known, as “this was the only region in which there was a lockdown during the study”.

“Although the government has announced a rescue and stimulus package in response to Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic continue to put pressure on households’ access to food,” the report stated.

Covid-19 restrictions “affect the majority of households in Namibia”, but especially so in the northern areas.

The IPC report also states that Covid-19 measures have had a significant impact on household income levels and that this is a major cause of food insecurity.

“Although movement restrictions were introduced almost exclusively in the Erongo Region, job losses have been reported across the country,” it said.

Tourism is one of the sectors most affected. This is particularly the case in the north of the country, where people are dependent on the sale of handicrafts and other tourist activities.

The IPC assumes that the pandemic will continue to affect income levels between October 2020 and March 2021 “because international travel is expected to remain low and thus the tourism sector will continue to be affected”.

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