WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA: The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) – Namibia Study was launched on 12 September 2019 and marks a milestone in the history of Namibia. The event was held at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek. The study will undertake an analysis of the social and economic impact of child undernutrition in Namibia.
The COHA Study for Namibia is facilitated by the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) through the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), World Food Programme (WFP) international, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations (UN) in Namibia.
The event was attended by representatives from various institutions such as Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Namibia Statistic Agency, Chinese Embassy, Brazilian Embassy, The European Union, GIZ, UN System in Namibia among others.
According to Hon. Obeth M. Kandjoze, Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of the NPC, whose speech was read by Ms Annely Haiphene, Executive Director of the NPC,
“COHA aims to position nutrition high on the development agenda of the continent, in Namibia, the COHA will provide scenario based analysis that projects savings gained from reducing undernutrition, provide recommendations that will contribute to human capital gain in Namibia, and provide the evidence base to justify the need to increase investment in nutrition.” He further added, “These will bring us another step closer to the Zero Hunger Agenda.”
He highlighted that, “Nutrition is an important pillar of national development agenda and we are cognizant of the fact that nutrition is not a single sectoral issue, but rather a cross cutting issue. This is also mirrored in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), twelve (12) out of the seventeen (17) SDGs have nutrition outcomes, reflecting the significance of nutrition to development. However, to realise this development outcome, there is a need for a secured access to an appropriate nutritious diet coupled with water, sanitary environment, adequate health services and care, which is necessary to ensuring a healthy and active life for the population as well as increasing productivity.”
COHA results have encouraged Governments on the African continent to adopt concrete policy actions, affirming political commitment through increased investments to nutrition interventions. Similar launches have taken place in Seventeen (17) African countries thus far, with Namibia and South Africa being the latest additions and Burundi and Guinea to launch theirs soon.
The Government of the Republic of Namibia has placed food security and nutrition at the top of the political agenda by creating an enabling environment for improving food security and nutrition.
Speaking on behalf of the UN Namibia, Ms. Rachel Odede, UN Resident Coordinator said, “According to the 2013 Namibia Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 24 % of children under the age of 5 in Namibia are stunted. In other words, one (1) out of four (4) Namibian children are too short for their age because of malnutrition, and malnutrition can affect their health, their school performance, and limit their ability to contribute to social and economic development in the country.”
In Namibia the most common immediate causes of malnutrition in children under five, according to the Namibian Demographic Health Survey 2013, are inadequate breastfeeding and poor complementary feeding practices, poor care taking practices, frequent infections such as diarrhea through poor hygiene, malaria, pneumonia and poor maternal nutritional status.
The UN Resident Coordinator further added that, “The United Nations remains committed in supporting the process in Namibia of undertaking this study which will apprise initiatives that will transform Namibia into a hunger-free nation and to collaborate to ensure achievement of Namibia’s target to reduce stunting to 12% and further to eliminate it by 2030, thereby ensuring prosperity and sustainable opportunities for all Namibians.”
The COHA Study is a continent-wide initiative led by the Department of Social Affairs, AUC, within the framework of the Revised African Regional Nutrition Strategy (2005-2015), the objectives of the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) and the principles of the AU/NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar 3.
The Namibia study will provide a platform to develop country level recommendations in response to the results and identify next steps for advocacy efforts.