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More than 1 100 die of malnutrition

Written by on June 24, 2024

Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula says about 1 101 Namibians have died of malnutrition in the past four years.

“Within the period under review, there have been 1 101 deaths due to malnutrition in all 14 regions. It is interesting to note that the number of deaths is lower in those regions that do not make a living from crop production,” Shangula told The Namibian on Thursday.

Last week the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) announced that 1,4 million people in the country would be facing food insecurity due to drought by July, while the country has reported almost 2 000 cases of malnutrition this year.

According to the OPM, 1 835 malnutrition cases have been recorded.

The minister said deaths are more pronounced in those regions which rely on rain for crop production.

“The lower the rainfall, the higher the number of deaths due to malnutrition,” he said.

Shangula said in some instances malnutrition is due to child neglect, where food may be available but does not reach the child.

“There are also other social ills that contribute to malnutrition, for example, alcohol abuse by parents with resultant child neglect,” he said.

The government has formulated a N$1,3-billion drought intervention, of which it is able to provide N$829 million.
It still requires N$482 million.

Kalumbi Shangula


The San are part of the 33 105 marginalised community members receiving drought relief.

San community chief Joseph Gomoseb recently told The Namibian community members in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions are dying of hunger.

“The government gives us one 10 kilogram of maize meal. The people must eat that bag for two or three months and three tins of fish and one bottle of oil.

“We ask ourselves: Can the minister eat that for three months?” he says.

Gomoseb says he feels disadvantaged by the current government.

“God gave the San people this land and now the government of the day continues to prescribe where and how we must live. We cannot even use our natural medicine to heal our people, because they have restricted us,” he said.

Gomoseb further expressed disappointment over the lack of San representation in the national and local governments.


African Peer Review Mechanism in its most recent report strongly spoke out against the government’s dispossession of marginalised communities of their land.

It found that Namibia’s indigenous people are still being deprived of their land rights through encroachment by more powerful neighbours and elites.

In a submission to a United Nations (UN) office, Amnesty International says the Sam community has historically been dispossessed of their ancestral land, which was a source of their livelihood, cultural identity and customary way of life.

“Additionally, the crowded housing conditions and inadequate sanitation in which San people live, coupled with limited access to water, further exacerbate community spread,” the submission reads.

Doreen Sioka

Minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka says she’s concerned over the drought situation, especially since many from marginalised communities are affected.

Sioka urges beneficiaries to take care of the grants and not misuse them.

“Also when we receive the food aid relief, let us please not sell the food,” she says.

She says the government is considering basic income grant (BIG) proposals, involving that all Namibians up to age 59 would receive N$500 per month.

Earlier this month, president Nangolo Mbumba had asked Sioka to receive a petition from the BIG Coalition.

“We are just waiting for his instruction. All I can say at this point, is there is something in the pipeline. Their cries will be heard soon,” Sioka says.

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