Namibia can eradicate poverty – WFP

The country director and representative of the World Food Programme in Namibia believes that the country is well on its way to leave behind the shackles of poverty that has tied it down for decades and holds it back from sustainable economic growth.

03 September 2018 | Agriculture

“A country will never be developed when you have many people that are food insecure and that are malnourished.” Bai Mankay Sankoh, WFP

Jemima Beukes – In June this year, the World Poverty Clock suggested that Namibia is off track reaching Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 which aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030.

The World Poverty Clock also reported that slightly over 18% of Namibians – which translates into roughly 400 000 people – are currently living in extreme poverty.

However, Bai Mankay Sankoh, country director and representative of the World Food Programme, is convinced that Namibia can kick the poverty bucket even before the deadline of 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a UN initiative to transform the world through the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

“Namibia has made the right investment, they have the right people and have brought in the right skills to ensure that this happens. With the support of everyone in the country, Namibia is on that road,” he said.

PRAISE FOR FOOD BANK

According to Sankoh, the much criticised Food Bank project is in fact a brilliant stepping stone for Namibia to finally eradicate poverty.

“The Food Bank helps many Namibians to not fall back when things are not going well. It serves as a cushion. And at the end of the day, it provides the basics for them to be food secure. A country will never be developed when you have many people that are food insecure and that are malnourished,” he said.

He commended the Namibian government for taking the lead in ensuring food security and for concentrating on the right areas to guarantee this.

“We can only ensure food security if all of us work together. Government has taken the lead. The private sector needs to really come in and do a lot of investment in the area of food security. In developed countries, the private sector plays a key role in developing the country,” he said.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

Recent media reports pointed out that despite the prospect of another drought, household food security was still satisfactory following improved agricultural production in the 2016/17 rainfall season.

According to a report released in December 2017, titled ‘Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Situation’ compiled by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU), in major communal crop producing regions it was observed that most households were still dependent on the last season’s food stocks.

According to most households interviewed for the report, food stocks were still sufficient to sustain them until the next harvest in May.

However, a few instances of food insecurity were reported, especially in areas that suffered the effects of poor rainfall, excessive rainfall and damage caused by last season's army worm invasion.

Concerns were also raised by regional leaders during the just ended SADC Summit of Heads of States and Governments that took place in Windhoek in August, indicating that food insecurity in the region may occur despite good rainfall received in the 2016/17 crop season.

It is believed that rainfall during 2017/18 was influenced by La Niña, which led to normal rainfall conditions; but there were dry spells in January, mainly in Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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