HCP Discussion Paper No. 49: Urban Food System Governance and Food Security in Namibia
Namibia’s transition to an urban society is occurring extremely rapidly and with it has come a transformation of urban food systems, changes in diets and food consumption patterns, increased undernutrition and overnutrition, and the rapid growth of non-communicable diseases. This paper examines the policy response of the Namibian government to the nutrition transition and double burden of malnutrition with particular reference to urban centres and populations. The national government assumes responsibility for all food security and health-related programming, while local government’s mandate is largely confined to non-food related management issues such as housing, transport and sanitation. The paper shows that food and nutrition security has been a recurrent focus of national government since independence and, in some cases, it has adopted a multi-sectoral whole-of-government approach. However, plans and programmes are heavily influenced by standard wisdoms and remedies favouring rural areas and very few focus either on urban food security or the food system drivers of food insecurity. At the local government level, the City of Windhoek has taken some initiatives including an informal food sector policy that is more tolerant than most (though more intolerant than food vendors like), joining the global Milan Urban Pact, and engaging with the Belo Horizonte model in Brazil. However, resource and other constraints, and the absence of a clear food strategy mandate, has meant that these promising initiatives have not yielded a great deal to date.