Since gaining independence in 1990, Namibia has enjoyed relative stability and the economy grew at an average rate of 5 percent between 2002 and 2012. This growth, however, has not translated into reduced poverty rates or equitable income distribution. The proportion of poor individuals stood at 29 percent in 2009/10 and the unemployment rate is estimated at 27.4 percent of the total labor force, with 31.8 percent of unemployed being females compared to 22.9 percent for males.
Namibia is one of the countries in the southern African region to have been hit hard with the “triple threat” of HIV, tuberculosis and malnutrition. The HIV prevalence is sixth highest in the world, standing at 13.3 percent. The political stability in Namibia has also made it a favourable destination for refugees and asylum seekers from the region. Improved political and economic conditions in neighbouring countries have allowed many refugees in Namibia to return home. With fewer than 3,000 refugees left in Namibia, plans are underway to resettle them in a third country in Africa or integrate them into local communities.
The food security situation in Namibia is characterised by extreme variability in levels of food production, large volumes of coarse grain imports and disparity in household income levels. The 2013 Global Hunger Index, published by The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), ranks Namibia at 53 out of 120 countries assessed, with an index score of 18.4, indicating a “serious food problem”. This rating is nevertheless an improvement on its level in 1995 (21.9), indicating that the food security situation in Namibia has improved. Namibia’s food insecurity is mainly linked to structural poverty compounded by high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates and recurrent natural disasters where cyclical drought and floods severely affect people's livelihoods.