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Ongoing Rising Food Prices Could Explode Unrest/Instability

By: Josef Kefas Sheehama

Crime has been constantly increasing, due principally to the level of poverty and inequality. Robbers broke into a Miracles Centre Church Thursday night and ransacked the church property looking for money and valuable items.

As an Economics and Business research as well as local Pastor casted imagination beyond incident happened. We are very much concerned.
It is not just Windhoek, perhaps all the urban towns in Namibia are at a situation where we might just have an economic crisis, which would mean the urban population that depends on markets, would not have purchasing power to even buy basic commodities, basic items for the household.

In addition, prices are expected to rise further throughout 2022 due to energy crises and trade risks. Namibian consumers have imported N$3,7 billion worth of goods resulted in the trade deficit at N$2,5 billion which is 59,4% lower than the N$6,1 billion recorded in May 2022. The cumulative trade activities continued to increase.

Namibia informal sector has been ravaged by COVID-19, while fuel prices have risen. Moreover, governments lack the fiscal space to mitigate the impact.
As they grapple with hunger, poverty and the pandemic, the risk of violent protest and political instability stemming from rising food prices looms large.
The Municipality of Windhoek threaten to formulate a new policy to prohibit home shops from operating in residential areas, escalates a further tension.
As hunger rises, so too does the potential for socio-economic disruption aimed at government. Namibia’s punitive set of social, environmental, economic and political challenges make it ripe for unrest.
It is bad to see that political parties are interested in voters, but failed to address the economic inequality.
Pressure on the country’s food system has been worsened by drought in 2018. Farmers have also moderated harvests in light of uncertainty induced by ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.

This is also driven by the global energy crisis and production risks due to supply disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine unrest.
Unemployment rates in Namibia have been upward trending particularly among the youth, who have borne the brunt of ongoing jobless growth and economic marginalization.

Young people across the country have become politically engaged, showing a willingness to punish incumbents who are unresponsive to their plight. Furthermore, overspending and debt accumulation have eroded public balance sheet while remaining fiscal buffers have been exhausted on external shock responses.

This means government cannot cushion civilians against rising food prices and food insecurity, and stave off associated political risks. A mixture of poverty, unemployment, inequality, bad politics and bad economics has kept the country on edge.
Moreover, addressing systemic economic injustice is often a matter of economic reforms that give groups better access to jobs, health care, and education.
In many cases, lack of access to basic services stems from enormous inequalities in resource distribution. Redistribution of benefits and resources can thus be an important component of social structural changes to remedy injustice.
There are various institutional and economic development reforms that might be put in place to raise living standards and boost economic growth.
In addition, by creating social and economic safety nets, can eliminate tension and instability caused by unfair resource allocation. Namibia need to stimulate productivity and investment in the broad food supply chain.
Furthermore, innovation along the food supply chain should be strongly incentivized and rewarded. Namibia is home to myriad start-ups at the forefront of developing crops, creating high yield but sustainable agriculture and aquacultural produce, and reimagining the food supply chain.
The transformative potential of start-ups SME’s should be harnessed, and paths opened that channel funding and capital to such businesses.
Informal economy is associated with two major aspects, one is the growth of the economy and the other is related to poverty and inequality.
Most people prefer to get into the sector because it became an avenue for their survival.
The most informal economy workers in this country are youth, the population majorly affected by our country’s unemployment rate. Street vendors, kapana vendors, domestic workers, wood-covers, men on the side of the roads, cattle herders amongst other things are the major operators in the informal industry.
The Government must address the critical needs of the poorest and most marginalized as a matter of priority.
The informal economy, one thing is sure, informality provides critical economic opportunities for the poor and the vulnerable.
The key driver of the informal economy, however, is that such businesses in the sector do not need registration with any relevant government agencies. Overall, the informal economy is enduring; but suitable regulations and policies are required to improve the sector and introduce formalization.
The decision for these businesses to formalize depends on the benefits that are derived from formalization over the risks of remaining in the informal economy.
Young people must be at the heart of government plans for the future.
The need for leaders to see the value in creating an enabling environment for young people to tap into blue and green economic pathways to drive sustainable development and create jobs.
Young people want to share their knowledge and be taken seriously as key partners and they need to have more opportunities like this.
Economic reforms together with structural and technological change are bringing about new business opportunities and with them demand for new skills. Furthermore, the private sector’s role in encouraging a growth and economic development cannot be overstated.
Private investments by the corporate sector are critical to higher growth rates and economic development.
Effective partnerships between the government and private sector in critical areas of infrastructure and long-term investments would expedite development. Corporates are integral to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and ensuring the future progress of an economy.
To this end, resolving the food price hike and associated insecurity is an economic, social and political imperative.
Given the tenuous position facing global, food insecurity could be the spark that lights the tinderbox. To douse it, we must act fast.

Julia Heita

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