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Growing concern over food security situation

Country Map - Namibia (Katima Mulilo)
The Caprivi Strip (IRIN)

Namibia's food security situation is causing growing concern as news reports point to a higher than expected cereal deficit in the Caprivi region, the World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN on Wednesday.

IRIN reported earlier this month that the country's Emergency Management Unit (EMU) believed some 400,000 people across the country may need food aid distributions this year, due to crop failures caused by persistent drought.

However, the situation in the northeastern Caprivi region was particularly bad, as the drought was followed by recent floods, which increased people's vulnerability.

EMU official Gabriel Kangowa told IRIN that "Katima Mulilo [in the Caprivi] is very unique - not only have they suffered drought there, but there was this recent flood. But otherwise, the other regions are all facing the same problem".

"We had hoped for a good harvest, but the rain has failed. That's why we are talking about probably a higher number of people in need of food aid than we had [last year]," he said.

Around 345,000 Namibians required food aid last year, which the government was able to provide without having to make an appeal for international assistance. But the increased number of people this year is worrying the WFP.

Abdirahman Meygag, head of WFP's Namibia sub-office, told IRIN that the Namibian government was "still discussing the [EMU's] drought report internally" and had not "shared the findings with us yet".

However, a recent report on the Caprivi region indicated that the situation was deteriorating there. "The main [point] of that report is that the floods have aggravated the situation. Because of the high percentage of HIV cases in that region, the floods really affected people already in a very [vulnerable] situation," he said.

But time was running out for aid agencies and the international community to make arrangements to assist, should the government make an appeal.

According to The Namibian newspaper, the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information System had warned that the cereal deficit in the Caprivi Region had "worsened" to about 7,311 mt.

The majority of households had depleted their crop harvest in less than four months since April-May. This suggested a marked decline in food security prospects from the last season, the paper reported.

"If the government wants assistance from the international community, it's urgent that they: firstly, share the report with us; and secondly, approach the international community and make an appeal [for aid]," Meygag added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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