Big increase in food insecure populations in Nam: UN

08 Aug 2013 08:10
WINDHOEK, 08 AUG (NAMPA) - The biggest increases in the number of food insecurity have been recorded in Namibia (11-fold increase), according to a Regional Summary of the 2013 SADC National Vulnerability Assessment Results.
Issued by the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Wednesday, the assessment raised the concern that immediate humanitarian assistance is required not only for Namibia, but 10 other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Compared with last year, the biggest increases in the number of food insecure populations have been recorded in Namibia (11-fold increase), followed by Zambia (233 per cent) and Swaziland (151 per cent). Immediate humanitarian assistance such as food, cash, and agricultural input is required in some areas that have been identified to have populations experiencing acute food insecurity outcomes,” it cautioned.
According to the assessment, the number of food insecure populations in the region has increased in all countries, except Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique.
The percentage of food insecure populations is exceptionally high in Botswana at 49 per cent, followed by Namibia at 47,5 per cent and Swaziland at 29 per cent of the total rural population.
The assessment cautioned that some affected areas have remained the same for a long period, indicating chronic vulnerability and high levels of poverty.
The assessment also stated that child malnutrition levels, especially stunting (a sign of chronic food nutrition insecurity) are high to very high in the region. This indicates higher vulnerability of children to shocks such as drought, floods, as well as food price increases which some countries in the region face.
The statistics on child malnutrition showed that the highest incidences were recorded in Malawi (47 per cent) followed by Lesotho (44 per cent), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique (43), Tanzania (42), and Zimbabwe (32), with Angola, Namibia and Swaziland on the same level (29). Stunting malnutrition rates is defined as high as from 30 per cent.
The key short-term recommendations were identified and included, which included intensifying and up-scaling the implementation of safety nets and social protection programmes to address chronic vulnerability to hunger, malnutrition and poverty; and that member states should scale up and prioritise the implementation of nutrition policies, strategies and programmes.
It was also recommended that the co-ordination and harmonisation of response planning, capacity development, monitoring and evaluation at sub-national, national and regional levels be enhanced; that harvest and post-harvest management be improved; and that appropriate crop storage facilities, food safety and processing be scaled up.
“Governments, co-operating partners and traders should procure locally in those countries with surpluses, and regionally as one way of promoting increased future production,” it suggested.