In neighboring Angola, 10 out of 18 provinces have also experienced a catastrophic lack of rain. UNICEF has been scaling up nutrition programs in both countries to combat a growing crisis.
For children in Namibia, the drought aggravates already serious issues of hunger and malnutrition. Nearly 30 percent of Namibia's children under 5 suffer from stunting, a form of chronic undernutrition. The drought is worsening food insecurity in Namibia, which already affects about one-third of the population. "Women and children are really bearing the brunt,” says UNICEF Namibia Representative Micaela Marques de Sousa.
Many of these women, like Kariamakuju Kauta, a grandmother of four from a drought-stricken village near Opuwo in northwest Namibia, have little or no food in reserve as their crops fail.
“Children are going to bed hungry," says Kauta. "They wake up in the morning, and they are not eating anything. The children are fainting because of hunger."
In Angola's affected areas, three straight years of poor rainfall have led to dried-up wells and surface water evaporation. Many people have been forced to drink untreated stagnant water, causing a surge in cholera and other waterborne illnesses. Malnutrition leaves children even more susceptible to these diseases, and acute malnutrition rates are approaching 25 percent in the hardest-hit provinces. All told, some 3 million Angolan children may be at risk.
UNICEF has been expanding its nutrition efforts in Angola over the last two years. Nearly 2 million children under the age of five have been targeted for malnutrition screening, deworming tablets and Vitamin A supplements by the end of 2013. More than 200,000 people in the country's highest-risk drought areas will be provided with safe water. In Namibia, UNICEF has targeted 109,000 children who are at risk of acute malnutrition. Please support UNICEF's emergency relief programs.