Representative Image

Namibians turn to traditional food items, informal markets to tide over inflation

May 08, 2022

Windhoek [Namibia] May 8: One thousand Namibian dollars (67 U.S. dollars) used to be enough for Eveline David, a resident of the Namibian capital Windhoek, to cover all essential groceries and transport for a month.
Not any more since March, when the country's annual inflation rate reached 4.5 percent, up from 3.1 percent of the same month last year, according to Namibia Statistics Agency, attributing the surge to higher costs of transport, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
"The same amount of money can no longer afford me that much, and I had to devise new ways to survive," David said.
She now turns to traditional food items and informal markets to make ends meet.
Although not a new phenomenon, locals say dependency on traditional food items is more prevalent now than before. The approach is two-fold.
"Firstly, I source more food items from relatives in the village," David said. "In the past, I would rely mainly on buying from the retail shops and rely minimally on traditional items."
"But now things have changed," she said.
Items come with relatives travelling from the rural areas, from a distance of up to 800 kilometres from Windhoek, to avoid the high cost of courier services.
The most popular items from the village are pearl millet, maize meal flour, dried spinach and peas.
According to David, the approach saves her 300 Namibian dollars from the 1,800 Namibian dollars she usually has to pay since prices spiked.
Anna Sem, another Windhoek native, has also resorted to traditional foods. Until recently, she mainly relied on retail shops for commodities.
"I am seeing more value in traditional food items, both in nutrition and diversity, especially amid increased prices," Sem said.
Meanwhile, those with no relatives in the countryside now shop in informal markets, for bargains on traditional food items and other commodities.
These include seasonal food items and preserved or dried food items.
Elias Shivute, who works in the public service, has been buying traditional food items at a local informal market.
"I frequent the informal markets more often. There, one can also negotiate for lower prices on goods, unlike in the retail shops," he said.
Meanwhile, Namibians hope that the government's temporary cut on levies on fuel imports would ease the pressure on raising the prices of other commodities in the country.
Source: Xinhua