Saturday 17 April 2021
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In the times of food insecurity households need reassurance

New Era newspaper on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 and Thursday, 28 February 2019 carried stories of human interest. On 28 February reporter Nuusiku Ashipala wrote that there were mounting fears of starvation not only for livestock but for humans because of anticipated poor harvest.
She was informed by regional councillors in Oshana and Omusati Regions that some members of the community are flocking to the constituency offices in search of food assistance to no avail.
Obrien Simasiku reporting from Oshikoto noted the concern expressed by mahangu farmers on 27 February.
Farmer Erastus Shihepo told Simasiku that under the current state of affairs, there is no prospects of a good harvest unless miracles happen.
Miracles can only happen if the rains became strong, widespread and last up the early May.
The concerns of communal farmers are genuine. Some households are running out of reserves.
To avoid panic associated with food insecurity those in authority should be seen to be taking interest in the plight of subsistence farmers. One way of doing so is to conduct the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) survey. The FIES survey determines the proportion of the population facing serious constraints on their ability to obtain adequate food.
The survey groups people into categories of a) having adequate food supply; b) moderately food insecure and c) severely food insecure. The focus is particularly on those who are severely food insecure.
A person is severely food insecure if he/she has run out of food or gone an entire day without eating at times during the year.
According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s 2018-The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, severe food insecurity is prevalent in Africa and the situation is not improving.
The percentage of food insecure people in Africa was 22.3 in 2014; 22.4 in 2015; 25.4 in 2016; and 29.8 in 2017.
In Southern Africa the percentage of people who were food insecure was 21.3 in 2014; 20.4 in 2015; 30.8 in 2016; and 30.9 in 2017. Namibia cannot escape similar experience during the time of late onset of rains.
The FAO report is a must reading for policy makers. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to which Namibia committed itself voluntarily in Target2.1 obliges the country that by 2030, to end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular, the poor and people in vulnerable situations and infants, to safe nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
Namibia has now to fulfil this commitment under the conditions of climate variability and climate extremes.
The FAO report noted that hunger is significantly worse in countries with agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability and where the livelihood of a high proportion of the population depends on Agriculture.
The cumulative effects of changes in climate is undermining all dimensions of food security, namely, food availability, access, utilization and stability.
Poor access to food contributes to under -nutrition, the risk of low birthweight, childhood stunting and anaemia in women of reproductive age.
The prevalence of under-nourishment in Africa is the highest in the world.
The report recorded that under-nourishment in Africa in 2017 was 21.2 percent in 2005; 19.1 percent in 2010; 18.6 percent in 2012; 18.3 percent in 2014; 19.7 percent in 2016; and 20.4 percent in 2017.
Though under-nourishment is relatively low in Southern Africa, it is on the increase.
The percentage of under nourishment among children under the age of five in Southern Africa was 6.5 in 2005; 7.1 in 2010; 6.9 in 2012; 7.4 in 2014; 8.2 in 2016; and 8.4 in 2017.
The report recommends that countries should develop policies for scaling up action to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of changing climate variability and increasing extremes.
Such actions should include measures to prevent risk and address the effects of these climate extremes and stresses.
Building resilience enables a country to adjust its agricultural practices to reduce climate change risks.
Resilience is enhanced by designing adaptive strategies which identify adaptive and mitigating priorities and constraints. This process of planning should be done in consultation with affected communities.
Namibia has a plethora of high- sounding policy documents on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
These include the National Policy on Climate Change for Namibia 2011 and the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2020. Namibia is also a party to Africa Climate Change Adaptation Project.
The country is one of the countries which receive funding from the Government of Japan through the Global Environmental Facility.
A pilot project is underway in the Omusati Region under the aegis of Community- Based Adaptation activities.
Clearly the question is whether policies are being implemented. Regarding the Omusati Region climate adaptation project, what has been the impact of such a project!
In times of food insecurity household need to see concrete climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.
This is the only way the public can develop coping and resilience strategies. In absence of such strategies food insecure households will panic and aggravate their conditions of insecurity.
Such a situation should be avoided by any cost.
Government should therefore be pro-active and be seen devising measures aimed at addressing households food insecurity.

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