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Own Food Preservation and Canning as a Drought Strategy for Urban Poor – Namibia

This initiative allows farmers in Namibia to can food that might otherwise go to waste. “Own Food Preservation and Canning as a Drought Strategy for Urban Poor” helps in the canning of meat and vegetables that farming families can eat, or sell to city dwellers. The project brings modern technology to a centuries-old farming system, contributing to food security while conserving resources in times of increased drought.

Fast facts:

  • 1 million inhabitants in target region
  • Canned food may be stored for 3 to 4 years

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The problem

Climate change has increased the length and frequency of dry spells and droughts, including in Namibia’s breadbasket region. During drought times, there is little forage for livestock to graze on. Instead of watching animals die, the only option farmers have, is to sell them as fresh meat at city markets. This means slaughtering the animal in one day, then transporting it immediately to the market.

Because much of the population lacks access to the electrical grid, there are few refrigerators to preserve the meat. If the farmer doesn’t sell the meat within approximately two days, it will spoil. Another option is to dry it in the sand for later consumption, but at that point it can no longer be sold.

The solution

This project has established a partnership that allows communities to preserve meat through canning. One company provides the cannery and access to slaughterhouses, assuring proper hygiene. Animals are slaughtered, the meat cooked and canned and then given back to the farmer. Either this or it is bought by the government for food aid, or sold in slum communities on the outskirts of cities .

Another company provides administrative, logistical, and marketing support for the project, for example in developing canned products. Not only is beef – a staple food being preserved – but also goat, chicken, tomatoes, pumpkins, spinach, and mopane worms and other African delicacies.

Helping the planet

Canning food that might otherwise spoil reduces waste and helps to conserve resources, including land and water.

Helping people

The effort allows farmers to access their goods over time, giving them a better return for their labor, particularly during times of increased drought. The urban poor also benefit from increased food security. Canned food can be mass-produced and quickly reheated, which saves time and effort in food preparation.

Spillover effect

Since many southern African farmers depend on the sale of their crops and meat to city residents, this project could be replicated in other regions as well. Indeed, efforts such as these can help assure food security, especially as drought becomes more common.





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