By Hilary Mare
THE Africa Country Benchmark Report for 2017 has named Namibia as the 10th most food secure African country.
Namibia follows Tunisia, Mauritius, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, South Africa, Ghana and Senegal, who ended in first to ninth place, respectively.
The report also asserts that Namibia largely has a desert environment, but made the top 10 list, because of initiatives like the Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project.
Earlier this month, Namibia received a US$74million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which will finance 70 percent of the project that will end the reliance on the annual importation of agricultural seeds and basic grains, while benefiting 295 000 crop farmers and 10 000 livestock farmers, and boosting national food production.
“There are several measures of a country’s food security situation, mostly health indicators. The percentage of malnourished children, included children suffering from stunting, due to improper nutrition, and provides a good snapshot of a country’s overall food situation. African countries have large divides between rich and poor, and childhood malnutrition is a measurement of how equitably a country’s most valuable commodity, food, is distributed,” the report explained.
The report added that incidents of obesity are rising in sub-Saharan African countries, as some grow more affluent.
“Middle-class lifestyles tend to bring poor eating choices and less physical activity. However, the prevalence of obesity does not correspond with a country’s food security situation, and often extreme childhood stunting exists side by side in a country, with increased adult obesity.
“Another measurement is to what extent external food aid, from such organisations as the World Food Programme, must be provided to circumvent famine – which countries receive food aid, how much and at what frequency,” the report said.
Just as the Africa Country Benchmark Report for 2017 amalgamates business and economic indexes to create an inclusive and holistic view of each African country’s performance, a review of this data gives insights into which countries are successfully expanding their food resources.
These countries tend to be politically stable, with democratic governance, and have better economic performance, resulting from their people-oriented politics.
What do all of these countries have in common? The top ten nations are all democracies, which are at peace and all of them have historic trade routes with foreign markets and none of them are geographically landlocked. “As democracies, their governments are more attentive to the needs of their populations (i.e. voters). As countries at peace, they are able to focus national spending and efforts on food security. These conditions, which are more pro-people governance, and the absence of armed conflict, also lead to more prosperous economies, allowing citizens to purchase more and better quality food,” the report said.
“These ten nations also have export-driven trading economies, where movement of foodstuffs have been going on for centuries. Such trade assures the availability of food, even when local crops are affected by natural disaster. However, many of these countries are perennial food exporters, having long succeeded in growing surplus food for the international market.” The long-established societies of North Africa, with their centuries-old trade ties with Europe and the Middle East, have found food security that endows their peoples with the continent’s longest life expectancies.
Libya, which is at present divided by civil war, has seen its social indicators decline, and while famine is not a problem now, no aspect of national life, including food, can be seen as “secure”. “Otherwise, all North African countries – Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia – despite their populations of poor people, who struggle for nutrition, are present on the ACBR 2017 list of Africa’s most food secure nations.
“These countries are also proactive in food production, recognising that food security is never 100 percent on a continent with widespread poverty, and are constantly striving for ways to boost farming output,” the report added.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015