A STAGGERING 29.4 million people in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) experienced food insecurity during the 2018/19 consumption year.
Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba said this during the World Food Day commemoration held at Kapako Constituency in the Kavango West Region on Tuesday.
“The increasing trend in the number of food insecure population is highly suggestive of chronic long-term structural issues being at the core of the causes of the food insecurity in the region,” said Mbumba.
According to Mbumba, data available shows that the prevalence of wasting (being too thin for your height) among children under age five years is above 5% in six Member States, while stunting prevalence (being too short for your age) is above 30% in 10 of 16 Member States.
“This is an important warning to us all that we are not on track to eradicate hunger by 2030. The transformation vision embedded in the 2030 Agenda provides an imperative for new ways of thinking, acting and measuring,” stated Mbumba
He said 70% of people in the SADC region depend on agriculture for food, income and employment, all of which hinges on the right amount of rain at the right time. With only a 7% chance of that, 3.4 million hectares out of the 50 million hectares of arable land are being irrigated.
According to him, the SADC region’s population is over 340 million with a life expectancy of between 51 to 75 years. The unemployment rates ranges from 4% to 80% with poverty incidence of 0.7% to 65%.
“The region’s children are facing a double burden of malnutrition: under-nutrition including micro nutrient deficiency and over-nutrition. Given that diets are mainly cereal-based, even where food is available, it is not necessarily nutritious, and many suffer micro nutrient deficiencies,” said Mbumba.
These results in high numbers of children and other vulnerable populations suffering from malnutrition, which at its extreme can be a matter of life and death, and in the long-term can, undermine economies and development.
The event is celebrated under the theme “Our Actions are our Future. A #Zero Hunger World by 2030 is Possible”.