On the eve of World Food Day to be celebrated this Sunday, a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) yesterday warned that Namibia has a serious hunger problem.
Namibia’s 2016 Global Hunger Index or GHI score is 31.4 out of 118 countries covered by the institute. The institute stated that the country’s hunger position was ‘serious.’ In 2008, the ranking was 29.6.
World Food Day is about zero hunger – a global goal for the world to achieve together, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO).
According to the IFPRI report, the proportion of undernourished people in the population was 42.3%, the report said. The prevalence of wasting in children under five years was 7.1 percent, while the prevalence of stunting in children under five years was 23.1 percent.
The under-five mortality rate was 4.5 percent.
The current drought does not get mentioned in the report, and observers say hunger in the country may increase this year due to the prevailing drought.
In June, President Hage Geingob declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing drought, while government had set aside N$90 million for the period April to July this year. In order to feed some 700 000 people in desperate need of food, government has been running a drought relief programme worth N$916 million from April 2015 to March 2016.
The about 700 000 people face survival and livelihood protection deficits caused by the foot-and-mouth disease, increased prices of the staple food basket and due to severe drought conditions.
The report by IFPRI stated that the global community is not on course to end hunger by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal deadline of 2030, according to data from the index.
“Simply put, countries must accelerate the pace at which they are reducing hunger, or we will fail to achieve the second sustainable development goal,” said IFPRI director general Shenggen Fan.
The Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, and Zambia have the highest levels of hunger, according to the report.
The report also outlined some bright spots in the fight to end world hunger. The level of hunger in developing countries as measured by the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has fallen by 29 percent since 2000.
The GHI is based on four key indicators: undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.
FAO states that zero hunger could save the lives of 3.1 million children a year, and ending child undernutrition could increase a developing country’s GDP by 16.5 percent
FAO also says well-nourished mothers have healthier babies with stronger immune systems and that an American dollar (N$14) invested in hunger prevention could return between $15 and $139 in benefits.
According to FAO, proper nutrition early in life could mean 46 percent more in lifetime earnings while eliminating iron deficiency in a population could boost workplace productivity by 20 percent.
“Ending nutrition-related child mortality could increase a workforce by 9.4 percent and zero hunger can help build a safer, more prosperous world for everyone,” the FAO says in a report.
According to FAO, one of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. The world’s poorest – many of whom are farmers, fishers and pastoralists – are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters.
“At the same time, the global population is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, agriculture and food systems will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable. This is the only way that we can ensure the wellbeing of ecosystems and rural populations, and reduce emissions.
“Growing food in a sustainable way means adopting practices that produce more with less in the same area of land, and using natural resources wisely. It also means reducing food losses before the final product or retail stage through a number of initiatives, including better harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure, market mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.
“This is why our global message for World Food Day 2016 is ‘Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too,’” says the FAO.
FAO is calling on countries to address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.
Livestock contributes to nearly two thirds of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and 78 percent of agricultural methane emissions.
FAO is working with countries to improve livestock management and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Climate change’s negative impact on natural resources, from declining global water supplies and quality to soil degradation, underlines the increasing importance of using these resources sustainably. Good soil and forestry management, for example, can lead to the natural absorption of carbon dioxide, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
FAO estimates that agricultural production must rise by about 60 percent by 2050 in order to feed a larger population. Climate change is putting this objective at risk but FAO and its member countries are working on various solutions.