Monday 12 April 2021
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Namibia’s food security headache

Lack of coherent policy, capacity constraints, fragmented social programmes and weak coordination are some of the factors hampering Namibia to ensure food security in the country, according to Namibia’s national review report on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is revealed in the report on the chapter that deals with Namibia’s implementation of the United Nations’ second SDG that deals with ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Poverty affects about 28 percent of the Namibian population while according to the 2016/2017 Annual Vulnerability Assessment, 27.8 percent of Namibia’s population is food insecure. Stunting rates are also high at 24 percent while the prevalence of underweight children under five years is 7.1% and the under-five mortality rate is 5.0%.
In Namibia, there is growing recognition that the vision for Zero Hunger cannot be realised unless urban food insecurity is adequately addressed.
Poor urban households face many pressures such as high food prices, high rates of unemployment, limited basic services, and poor infrastructure and overcrowding.
Although sufficient food is available in urban areas, in reality most poor urban households are not able to purchase food regularly.
According to the report, several gaps and challenges linked to food security in the country were identified when the zero hunger strategic review was conducted in 2015.
On the policy sphere, the report notes that although the legal and policy frameworks are sufficient enough to aid Namibia’s development agenda, coherence among sectors managed by different government agencies is a major issue.
“There is a need for cross-sector and inter-sector synergies and coherence to be created, together with a national system to monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies.
The current food and nutrition security policy is not addressing all aspects of food security as stipulated in SDG 2 and therefore there is no framework to guide social assistance programmes in the country. Majority of the social protection interventions are sector-specific and are not addressing cross-sectoral issues: they are neither comprehensive nor integrated,” states the report.
Limited institutional and human resource capacity for policy and programme design and implementation are also adversely impacting the implementation of food security programmes.
According to the report: “the capacity of government institutions and personnel involved in designing, planning, resourcing and monitoring must be improved to ensure higher quality, cost-effective, equitable and empowering assistance to vulnerable households and individuals.”
The report also highlighted that weak evidence, monitoring weak research and evidence collation challenges programming, which subsequently makes it difficult to quantify the interactions among food and nutrition insecurity, poverty and HIV.
“There is no food and nutrition security baseline by which to measure progress in addressing hunger. The limited information on food consumption patterns, overall and by population group, and fragmented data collection tools, approaches and systems among sectors and ministries, make it difficult to obtain a comprehensive outlook of the food and nutrition security situation to inform programme design, policy and timely government response.”
Despite Namibia having one of the most comprehensive social protection systems in sub-Saharan Africa, the registration and targeting procedures are not efficient, monitoring needs strengthening as well as beneficiary selection, which leads to exclusion and inclusion errors.
“This inefficiency continues to contribute to high administrative and delivery costs and limits scalability. Social programmes must be consolidated under a single registry and coordinated by a single institution to enhance their effectiveness in ensuring food security.” Namibia’s social protections systems it supports elderly people, orphans and vulnerable children, people living with disabilities, war veterans, schoolchildren, marginalized communities and populations affected by hunger.
Government’s silo operational mentality has also been fingered as a stumbling block as far as ensuring food security is concerned.
The report underlined that poor coordination among ministries, sectors, agencies and public and private organizations limits progress towards zero hunger in Namibia.

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