42.3 percent of Namibians are undernourished

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Windhoek – More than 42 percent of Namibia’s population is undernourished, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) revealed in its State of Food Insecurity in the World Report 2015, which was published in Rome last week.

According to the report, Namibia is one of eight African countries which have been classified at the highest level of  undernourishment (35 percent and over). Namibia does not sit pretty in the report with 42.3 percent of its 2.2 million inhabitants regarded as poorly nourished.

That puts Namibia in the same boat as Senegal, Tanzania, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Zambia, Ivory Coast and Uganda as the eight African countries which are not part of the majority – 72 out of 129 countries monitored by the FAO – which have achieved the Millennium Development Goal Target (MDT) of halving the prevalence of

undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin.

The majority 72 countries have achieved the MDT of halving chronic undernourishment.

According to the report, the number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million – 216 million fewer than in 1990-92, or around one person out of every nine.

In the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment – which measures the proportion of people who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life – has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent a quarter of a century ago.

In addition, 29 countries met the more ambitious goal laid out at the World Food Summit in 1996, when governments committed to halving the absolute number of undernourished people by 2015.

AThe near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime. We must be the Zero Hunger generation. That goal should be mainstreamed into all policy interventions and at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda to be established this year,” said FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva.

Progress towards fully achieving the 2015 food security targets was hampered in recent years by challenging global economic conditions.

Extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife have all impeded progress – 24 African countries currently face food crises, twice as many as in 1990. Around one of every five of the world’s undernourished citizens lives in a crisis environment characterized by weak governance and acute vulnerability to death and disease.

Hunger rates in countries enduring protracted crises are more than three times higher than elsewhere. In 2012, some 366 million people were living in this kind situation, of whom 129 million were undernourished, making up 19 percent of all food-insecure people on the planet.

Along with these challenges, the world population has grown by 1.9 billion since 1990, making reductions of the number of hungry people all the more striking, the report says.

Large reductions in hunger were achieved in East Asia and very fast progress was posted in Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast and central Asia, as well as some parts of Africa, showing that inclusive economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, along with political stability, make the elimination of hunger possible.  Above all, the political will to make hunger eradication a paramount development objective has fostered progress.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world – at 23.2 percent, or almost one in every four people. However, African nations that invested more in improving agricultural productivity such as conservation agriculture and basic infrastructure also achieved their MDT, notably in West Africa.

By Deon Schlechter

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