THE 2017 Unicef humanitarian situation report on Namibia showcases a deplorable state of malnutrition amongst children in Namibia, that should attract urgent attention and resolve.
With President Hage Geingob having declared war on poverty pursuant of his flagship blueprint, the Harambee Prosperity Plan, it is essential that relative stakeholders pull together to redress an acceptable reality in which at least 85000 of our children below the age of 5 are affected by severe malnutrition whilst 148 have lost their lives.
As a result of failed targeted reforms associated with climate change and poor summer rain, the poverty fight is constantly taken aback and until this situation improves, the human development prospects of hundreds of thousands of Namibians will remain at risk.
Whilst we cannot depart from the fact that poverty is the main underlying cause of malnutrition and its determinants, the degree and distribution micronutrient deficiencies in a given population depends on many factors of a socio-economic nature and these must be addressed imminently.
Extensively, the report takes notice of the Fall Armyworm outbreak that robbed Namibia of close to 2000 hectares of maize by what needs to be addressed urgently are the findings of gaps that exist between design and implementation of the national disaster risk management system that was effected by government to address challenges posed by disaster and climate risk.
What we need to understand is that political will alone will not be enough to rid the country of a situation in which 1138 children under the age of five were treated for severe or moderate acute malnutrition in a single calendar year. Every stakeholder needs to take charge of their role and help progress the proponents of the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and vision 2030, both which stand as enemies of poverty and subsequently malnutrition.
Despite being classified by the World Bank as an upper middle-income country Namibia is currently ranked among four African countries with the highest number of under-nourished people in the world. Zambia, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Malawi are the only other countries in the same category with levels of malnutrition exceeding 35 percent of the population. According to the World Food Program report, entitled ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World – 2015: “Heavy reliance on food imports makes Namibia susceptible to high food prices, which increases pressure on vulnerable households’ food security. Low-income earners struggle to meet their minimum daily food intake requirements, as reflected in the fact that 42.3 percent of the population is undernourished.”
Although Namibia remains highly vulnerable to climatic shocks, critical dependence on rain-fed agriculture and a rapidly growing population government needs to step up its targeted approach towards hunger bearing in mind that by ending the ravages of hunger and malnourishment, it will nurture capabilities and conditions for human development and get ahead in its anti-poverty campaign.
The WFP notes that since 1990 Namibia has enjoyed relative stability and strong economic growth at an average of 4.8 percent. This growth, however, has not translated into reduced poverty or equitable income distribution by the two previous administrations, a situation that the current administration must seek to depart from. With clear intent to address this by the government, it is also well notable that the country’s Achilles heel since the inauguration of Geingob has been negative energy from key developmental stewards that in essence have slowed down the progress of government ideals. With children as the future of the country, it is imperative that government calls slacking stakeholders to order to tackle this malnutrition scourge without delay.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015