Namibians must prepare for higher food prices: USAID

10 May 2016 11:00am
WINDHOEK, 10 MAY (NAMPA) – Namibians should brace themselves for food scarcities and higher food prices due to poor rain, warns a Southern Africa Drought Report issued by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) last Friday.
“Harvest shortfalls and food scarcity are contributing to elevated food prices throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.
“USAID and the Office of United States (US) Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has provided FAO with US dollars 1 million (about N.dollars 15 million) to increase regional disaster management capacity and alleviate drought-induced food insecurity, livelihood disruptions, and water shortages in Angola and Namibia. Supported activities include agriculture and water infrastructure rehabilitation, seed distributions, and the strengthening of food security early warning systems,” it said.
The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) on Sunday said about 500 000 people in Namibia are affected by the drought, and the USAID Drought Report indicated that about 12.8 million people are food insecure in the SADC Region.
Below-average rainfall exacerbated by the 2015/2016 El Niño climatic event resulted in drought conditions throughout much of southern Africa beginning in 2015, causing deteriorating agriculture, food security, livestock, nutrition, water and sanitation conditions.
The report highlighted a World Food Programme (WFP) assessment that was published on 08 April 2016 which estimated that a poor harvest season will generate a regional grain deficit of nearly 8 million metric tons (MT). Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe will require significant grain imports, with Malawi and Zimbabwe experiencing the largest shortfalls. Namibia imports grain mainly from South Africa.
It said that although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts that the El Niño climatic event is weakening, the effects of El Niño, including crop failures and water shortages, are likely to persist in southern Africa throughout 2016 due to the southern hemisphere’s agricultural cycle. La Niña conditions, which historically follow strong El Niño events and produce above-average rainfall, could generate flooding beginning in late 2016, exacerbating the region’s emergency food, nutrition and water situation.
“Diminished labour opportunities in agriculture and related industries are further eroding incomes, rendering food prohibitively expensive among poorer households and prompting negative coping strategies,” added the report.