Food Security Has Weakened

All communal crop producing regions are expecting below average harvest, following poor rainfall performance coupled with damages by American Bollworms, according to the Crop Prospects and Food Security Situation Report, released last week by the Government.

According to the Report, farmers say the rainfall was sporadic, erratic and insufficient in the first half of the season as well as serious prolonged dry spells in January and most February. Rainfall for the 20132014 season saw above normal rainfall confined in the north east, central and some parts in the south. Elsewhere, the cumulative performance of the season depicted near normal to below normal rainfall. In contrast, the north central regions reported poor rainfall, which according to farmers have been sporadic, erratic and insufficient in the first half of the season with serious prolonged dry spells in January and most of February, affecting both crop and livestock production. However, heavier falls relative to normal were experienced as from the end of February and most of March 2014.

Provisional crop estimates indicated a slight improvement in the expected harvest better than last season, but still below average. Poor rainfall was felt more in the northern central regions, resulting in poor crop germinations and wilting of crops, and subsequently poor expected crop harvest.

National cereal production is provisionally forecasted at 122,390 tons, reflecting an increase of 50% higher than last season’s harvest but yet 2% below average. Much of this improvement comes from the commercial areas where most of the production is under irrigation.

The food security situation has weakened and is fragile in the regions as the hunger season reaches its peak. Most households interviewed have indicated that their last season’s poor harvest only lasted until last July and August and they are currently dependent on the market and drought relief food assistance for food access.

Livestock condition in most regions is said to have improved from poor to good, except in the Kunene region, and some areas in the !Karas region where the situation is reported to range between poor and fair. At the time of this assessment, no major livestock disease outbreaks had been reported.

However, farmers indicated that these produce will be stingily available this season due to the effects of poor rainfall performance experienced in the first half of the season as well as severe dry spells in January and most of February. At the time of the assessment, drought relief food distribution was ongoing especially to the people who were identified to be food insecure. According to the regional council offices in the regions, the number of households and people facing food insecurity is on the increase as compared to the supply of drought relief food assistance received in the region.

Meanwhile, the following interventions aimed at circumventing food insecurity were implemented in various regions in the country.

ordm Food distribution

Government embarked upon food distribution programme to the needy people who were affected by drought conditions. This programme started from the beginning of August 2013 and was expected to end March 2014.

ordm Supplementary feeding

This is a targeted feeding response programme currently implemented by the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) and Namibia Red-cross Society (NRCS). This programme, also called the Soup Kitchen, provides hot meals to the most vulnerable people in all the regions countrywide. The targeted vulnerable groups included malnourished children, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), the elderly, chronically ill and people living with HIV and AIDS who are on ARV treatment. The government is allocating food items to both CCN and NRCS for the Soup Kitchen programme.

ordm Cash transfers

This programme is targeting the highly food insecure people living in locations with access to resilient market and who were not otherwise benefiting from regular food distributions. It is being implemented by ACT Alliance-LWF and is currently being implemented in the regions of Hardap, Kunene, Omusati and Kavango East. NEWFIU will continue to monitor the situation and provide update information accordingly.

The main purpose of the crop assessment mission was to assess crop condition in the major communal crop-growing regions of Namibia and provide early warning report on geographic locations of agronomic anomalies, the effects of floods, droughts, and other significant events. The mission was conducted in collaboration with the Meteorological Service of Namibia under Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, regional councils and Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. Since the situation may change, it should be noted that this report presents the results of the assessment that took place during the period in question.

Source : New Era