HOUSEHOLD food security continued to weaken, particularly in the rural areas of Namibia as most households are reported to have no food reserves left, following a failed agricultural production due to severe and devastating drought conditions.
In its Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Situation Report the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry stated that more than 200 000 people are currently living with the threat of malnutrition in the country.
According to the report, many households are heavily dependent on the market for food access with some households receiving government drought relief food assistance to supplement their food requirements.
“The cost of food in Namibia has been reasonably low in the last six months with an average monthly inflation of 3.9 percent,” read the report.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, (NSA) food prices in the country increased by four percent by end of October this year compared to the same period last year.
However, many households are unable to access food in the local market as some of the drought affected households do not have the necessary means to acquire food, due to that they do not have formal sources of income other than agriculture which had failed last season.
“These people are given priority to receive the drought relief food assistance from the government, though the food quantity is said to be insufficient,” stated the report.
According to the Namibian Vulnerability Assessment Committee first round report (NAMVAC, 2019) over 289 644 people were found to be food insecure and needed immediate food assistance. This number is expected to rise during the period of 2019/2020.
Meanwhile, government has been implementing the drought relief interventions countrywide since April 2019 and is set to run till end of March 2020.
The interventions include the food relief to the drought affected communities especially the vulnerable groups, livestock marketing incentive scheme, lease of grazing, transport subsidy to and from the grazing areas, water tanker services, rehabilitation and installation of boreholes, subsidy on lick supplements for core herd, fodder subsidy and provision of certified seeds.
The Directorate Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister is implementing the drought relief food intervention while the rest of the interventions are being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Drought relief foods given to beneficiaries include maize meals, cooking oil and relish, usually tinned fish. The maize used in the food basked is sourced through the government Strategic Food Reserve and is sent to the millers for milling and packaging before given to beneficiaries.