O verwhelming was their joy when we called them,” our project partner relates. “The Lord’s ravens have brought them food! To God be the glory!”
Our partner was describing the joyful response of a faithful Namibian Christian couple to the arrival of supplies from Barnabas Aid’s food.gives programme. The couple were reminded powerfully of God’s miraculous provision for Elijah in 1 Kings 17:4, when ravens brought bread for the prophet to sustain him in his exile.
In total 20 tonnes of food and other aid were delivered to 6,000 Christians in this drought-ridden African country. This was a lifeline in a region that is especially vulnerable to harsh weather patterns.
“God is faithful and He will provide for his children in need for those who trust in Him!” our partner rejoices.
Vital aid to combat growing food insecurity
The couple who received Barnabas Aid’s help with such joy belong to the marginalised Himba – an indigenous people with an estimated population of about 50,000 people living in Kunene in northern Namibia.
Aid from food.gives reached Opuwo, the regional capital of Kunene, ready for onward delivery to needy communities scattered across the region. Progress along rough tracks was laborious in this most underdeveloped corner of Namibia.
As they travelled, the ravages of drought were plain for our project partners to see. In many places there was a severe shortage of maize or vegetables to harvest. Over three days they were able to visit Christian leaders in seven locations and supply them with food boxes to distribute to their communities.
Each box contained 6 kg of rice, 2 kg of chickpeas, 2 kg of green lentils, 1.5 kg of salt and half a kilogram of bath soap.
“God is faithful and He will provide for his children in need for those who trust in Him,” says our project partner. Quoting Psalm 145:15 he adds, “The children of God in northern Namibia can testify that, ‘The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.’”
Drought and failed harvests
“These donations came at the right time,” agrees Tjambiru Uapeuotjunda, the head teacher of a mobile primary school. The Himba people are semi-nomadic, moving across the region throughout the year in search of water, so that even schools must be ready to travel from place to place.
“The school was still waiting for food from the government,” added Tjambiru. For three days he and his wife had had no maize meal (a staple in southern Africa that can be eaten like porridge) to give to the children. So severe was the crisis that they had sent the pupils home.
Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa. The sub-tropical High Pressure Belt, with its frequent clear skies, provides more than 300 days of sunshine per year, leaving the country particularly prone to drought.
The lack of water is not for want of trying. More than 100,000 boreholes have been drilled in Namibia over the past century, but one third of these boreholes have now dried up and can no longer provide water.
About half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence farming) for its livelihood, but Namibia must still import some of its food, and global insecurity has diminished the country’s ability to import wheat while drought leads inevitably to failed harvests.
“My wife and I are devoted Christians that keep the Word of our living God alive in this remote area,” Tjambiru says. “It is hard but what shall we do? Refuse to obey the Lord’s will? No! We serve him wholeheartedly.”
A humanitarian report in 2022 estimated that 750,000 people in Namibia are food insecure – a huge proportion of the country’s population of 2.5 million – and this situation is similar to many countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Another report published this year states that globally at least 828 million people are undernourished. Almost half of these – 345 million – are “facing acute food insecurity”, and of these 50 million are “teetering on the edge of famine”.
In September 2022 researchers calculated that one person dies of hunger every 4 to 12 seconds.
“The present global food crisis may become one of the worst disasters ever to face humanity,” said Barnabas Aid International Director Dr Patrick Sookhdeo.
You can help! Through food.gives Barnabas Aid is sending food and other practical aid from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand to hungry and impoverished Christian communities around the world. Please visit www.food.gives to see how you can help provide food and nourishment to our brothers and sisters.
Project reference: PR1555 (food.gives)