Classified as an upper-middle-income country, between 2000 and 2015 Namibia has seen sustained economic growth. However, several hurdles still remain on the road to achieving Zero Hunger – including poverty, malnutrition and widespread inequalities.
Rapid urbanization and persistently high unemployment rates – at 34 percent of the total labour force, affecting mostly youth and women – have contributed to a growing number of poor lacking access to food and basic social services. In 2017 the poverty rate stood at 17.4 percent.
Namibia produces about 40 percent of the food it consumes and is highly dependent on imports. This means that while food is available, price fluctuations can make it difficult to access for 28 percent of Namibian families to access food. This particularly affects the 80 percent of the population who depend on markets to fulfill their food needs. Smallholder farmers also have limited access to nutritious food due to recurrent droughts and floods, low productivity and limited access to land.
These limitations translate into poorly diversified diets with insufficient consumption of vitamins and minerals, which are at the root of persistent malnutrition. Nationwide, the stunting rate for children under 5 is 24 percent, with peaks of over 30 percent in some rural areas and among vulnerable groups. Anaemia is also prevalent, affecting 48 percent of under-5s. A 13.4 percent HIV incidence rate (a drop from 17%), further compounds nutritional challenges.
In the face of these problems, the World Food Programme (WFP) is working in close partnership with the Namibian Government to ensure the successful implementation of the country’s Zero Hunger Road Map.
In an environment of established policy and budget frameworks and a well developed social protection system, WFP has gradually shifted from direct food delivery to technical support and capacity strengthening of government institutions. WFPShifted from provision of operational support to building on its extensive experience in Namibia and elsewhere, WFP is supporting the strengthening of the Government’s comprehensive safety nets, which include the distribution of food and cash assistance to vulnerable groups and individuals. This involves promoting the review and integration of existing policies, enhancing the capacity of, and coordination among, institutions managing social assistance programmes, and ensuring that these are designed on the basis of evidence and are properly monitored and evaluated.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Namibia
Shock responsive social safety nets
WFP provides technical assistance to enhance the Government’s capacity to manage and implement emergency relief programmes, urban food assistance programmes, including technical advice on supply chain management and the creation of a unified national system for beneficiary identification and registration, so as to avoid possible gaps or overlaps.
WFP supports the Ministry of Education in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the school meals programme. This includes the development of a school feeding policy, implementation guidelines and a monitoring plan as well as technical support on a web-based information system to capture monitoring information.
Food security analysis
WFP helps the Government strengthen the evidence-base on food security through assessments to inform policy dialogue and programme design. The Food and Nutrition Security Monitoring System, which was developed with WFP support, collects information on individual households' food consumption, their income and the strategies they develop to cope with difficult situations to allow for appropriate response mechanisms.
Zero Hunger Programme implementation
WFP advocates for programmes that will lead to Zero Hunger and help build the required implementation capacity. This involves training government staff and facilitating learning and information sharing, as well as the provision of high quality technical expertise; supporting monitoring; promoting standards and procedures in food assistance programmes; assisting with emergency responses and preparedness efforts; and supporting advocacy and coordination mechanisms.