Namibia needs to tackle hunger problem urgently

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek

Namibia, with an index of 31.4, has a higher level of hunger than countries such as Burkina Faso (31), Liberia (30.7), Zimbabwe (28.8) or Malawi (26.9). Thus the country needs to urgently tackle hunger, undernourishment and malnutrition.

In Namibia, 42.3 percent of the population is undernourished, the report says. Wasting in children under five years is 7.1 percent, stunting in children under five years is 23.1 percent. Namibia has the lowest improvement rate but since 2000, 22 countries have made remarkable progress. Rwanda, Cambodia, and Myanmar have seen the largest percentage reductions in hunger of all the countries categorised as serious or alarming.

Namibia is at the bottom of the graph with the lowest improvement rate. Malnutrition, not getting the right amount and type of food, can lead to undernourishment – and also to obesity. Malnutrition contributes to early deaths, impaired development of children, poor health. Malnutrition undermines economic growth and perpetuates poverty.

The 2016 Global Hunger Index of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), says “hunger”, refers to four indicators of hunger, which are– undernourishment, child stunting (low height for age), child wasting (low weight for height), and child mortality. Ina Neuberger Wilkie, senior project manager of the World Future Council in Namibia, points out that the Central African Republic (46.1), Chad (44.3), and Zambia (39) have the highest levels of hunger.

Healthy, well-nourished people have a higher individual and country productivity, lower health care costs, and greater economic output.

“We need to act. But how can we get there? Income growth by itself does not guarantee healthier diets,” says Wilkie. Countries cannot simply ‘grow’ their way out of poor diet quality. In sub-Saharan Africa’s urban areas, the highest income group spends 65 percent of their food budget on highly processed foods; the poorest households spend 31 percent.

Consequently, the number of people with obesity is growing exponentially. By 2030, sub-Saharan Africa’s rate of overweight and obesity is expected to reach 17.5 percent. (Foresight Report 2016). A clear, graspable vision is needed.

Internationally, the food movement is developing this vision. It recognises that food security, food quality, human health, agriculture, ecological sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaption are all connected. Namibia‘s food movement is growing and there is a lot of knowledge around. The food movement sees food and farming as a vehicle for transformative social change. It believes there is now an opportunity to transform food and agricultural systems to mitigate climate change; become more climate-resilient; use natural resources sustainably and contribute substantially to poverty reduction and human health. In Namibia, there is a growing food movement discussing these questions and working on solutions. People from very different walks of life are involved. In and around Windhoek they are found; experienced small-holder farmers from the north; creative organic farmers; imaginative backyard gardeners; skilled permaculture activists; visionary entrepreneurs – to name just a few. There is a lot of knowledge around.

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