The effects of drought on household food consumption: A case of Okahauyulu and Eeshoke villages in Engela constituency, Ohangwena region, Namibia

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University of Namibia
The increasing of drought instances in Namibia has had a devastating effect on people’s livelihood, particularly in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country. Faced with an increasing frequency of droughts, the local communities of Okahauyulu and Eeshoke Villages are constantly at risk of food insecurity, which exacerbates their food consumption during the times of drought due to their dependence on rain-fed agriculture. The study investigated the effects of drought on household food consumption, using a case study of Okahauyulu and Eeshoke Villages in Engela Constituency of the Ohangwena Region. The study was guided by the following objectives: to investigate and compare the household food consumption patterns during drought and non-drought periods; to explore the challenges that households faced in coping with the food shortages in the past drought; and to examine the coping mechanisms/strategies employed in instances of food shortages during the drought periods. A mixed methods approach, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research methods was employed, which exposed the study to a rich data set. To meet the quantitative dimension, a total of 86 households were selected through stratified sampling and 14 participants purposefully sampled as key informants for the focus group discussion to meet qualitative objectives. The study exposed that during normal periods, households have adequate food to consume and they sell surplus food to cater for other household necessities. It is also emerged that, during trying times, households lack enough food and as such, they deviate from normal consumption patterns and resort to skipping meals. Moreover, the findings revealed that the main coping mechanisms employed included reducing the quantities of meals served, destocking livestock, seasonal migration by men to the ohambo (cattle post), salaried casual labour, basket weaving and extraction of Marula oil by females, reliance on the government drought relief food, and support from family, friends and community network ties. However, the study found that the coping strategies employed were not adequate to curtail the effects of drought on households’ food consumption in the study area. Thus, evidence suggests the need for the government to install water tanks at every household so as to harvest water during the rainy season, excavate earth dams which can be lined with trampolines, provision of diversified drought resistant seeds, conservation agriculture, and capacity building of households through subsided education.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts (Development studies)
Drought, Food consumption, Ohangwena region