The struggle against poverty

15 August 2019 | Opinion

As one of the world’s most unequal nations, accomplishing the tasks involved in reducing poverty is a tall order for Namibia. Extreme poverty remains an alarming problem in many areas of our country, while almost a quarter of the residents of Kavango East live below the food poverty line, according to the latest Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Baseline Report recently launched by the National Statistics Agency. While there has been a relative improvement in the country's poverty indicators, some regions have shown an increase, in particular with regards to hunger. Towards the end of last year, the NSA announced three new poverty lines, with households having N$293 per month for food classified as being extremely poor. A typical Namibian household comprises between four and five people. The second class of food poverty is for the severely poor, which was set at N$389 per household per month. The third poverty line is for all those classified as poor, and is set at N$520.8 per household per month. However, there is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots, while tin shanties or slums continue to blight most of our towns, accommodating thousands of households. Limited employment opportunities are also adding to the woes, and have seen a big chunk of Namibians still trapped in poverty. The latest SDGs baseline report figures also show that more than 10% of the country's people lived below the international poverty line of N$27 (US$1.90) per day. It is beyond comprehension that Namibia, of all nations, is struggling to make huge progress in eradicating extreme poverty despite the enormous emphasis placed on agricultural productivity. We have so many unemployed young people and many Namibians are also not paid enough to rise above the poverty line. At the end of the day people are too poor to obtain enough food. There is so much social instability and the inequality especially in rural areas is unacceptably high. The high jobless rate is one of the biggest contributors to poverty problems in our country and therefore a focused jobs strategy and careful prioritisation of policy reforms are crucial to arrest this worrying trend.

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