As many cities in Africa face increased urbanisation, solutions for urban food insecurity are needed. For this aim, the World Future Council (WFC) organised study tours to Belo Horizonte for African mayors and representatives of cities’ administration.
Although Namibia is ranked as an upper-middle-income country, the country struggles with perennial food deficits, recurring droughts and floods which result in high rates of chronic malnutrition. The past few years’ drought in Namibia did not only affect rural communities as it is largely perceived, but equally those living in urban Namibia. In Namibia, the responsibility of food security has been largely perceived to be central government. However, the role of ensuring the wellbeing of inhabitants of cities demands local leadership, being the level of governance closer to the people to lead the way.
Recognising its role in this socio-economic issue the City of Windhoek resolved to establish food security systems, thereby complimenting central government’s efforts. This followed the mass publicised study tour by the mayor and technical staff to Belo Horizonte, with the aim to share in their proven solution through knowledge transfer.
Council adopted food and nutrition security as one of its 8-point priority agenda for 2015. There are two councillors assigned to this agenda, and I am happy to be one of those two councillors, together with Councillor Cecilia Kahuure. The focal areas of intervention are to establish a Windhoek food bank and community gardens. We are happy to have been joined by the local business community, supermarkets such as Pick’n Pay, Metro and the likes of Namib Mills and the Bokomo brand. It is also pleasing that the community has shown interest since our pronouncement to turn riverbeds into community gardens. We have received a number of enquiries and a few applications for this community gardens.
Going forward, we have already identified the land for the construction of the food bank facility whose sustainability will largely depend on the support from the Windhoek community, public and private sector stakeholders. We are gratified that government through the Ministry of Poverty Reduction and Social Welfare has joined us in the food bank project. The City would ideally make land available and government will provide funding for the construction and for future substance. Discussions in this regard are underway with the Ministry of Poverty Reduction and it is our wish that the construction will kick off soonest.
On urban agriculture, we have during the month of April 2015 engaged a number of stakeholders, both in the public and private sector, civil society, international partners and community-based organisations. It was encouraging to note a number of community gardens already established in Windhoek, that we have visited. We have also identified six areas that could be turned into community gardens in places such as Mix settlement, Havana, Otjomuise (Agde Laan) and so forth.
While these ideas are being investigated, we also acknowledge the issue of shortage of water in Windhoek and Namibia in general. Henceforth, in collaboration with our international partners, the World Future Council (WFC) an NGO from Hamburg, Germany which funded the study tour to Brazil, RUAF, FAO and UNDP, we would like to engage international experts who have worked in dry and arid regions like Namibia to share with us their experiences.
Fransina Ndateelela Kahungu,
Councillor, City of Windhoek