28 November 2012

Namibia: Nation's Women, Poorest of the Poor

Windhoek — Women remain the poorest Namibians compared to men, even though statistics for the 17-year period of between 1993 and 2010 show a decline in the overall gap between the rich and the poor.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has started using its new calculating programmes, along with the new statistical Cost of Basic Needs approach, to analyse the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey data from as far back as 1993.

"The poor, who are primarily women, subsistence farmers and pensioners, are disproportionately located in rural areas," according to the Poverty Dynamics Report of the NSA.

The report re-affirms what the NSA said when it released the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES) for 2009/2010 earlier this year, which is that overall statistical social indicators of income levels, asset ownership and access to services are more encouraging with improvements over the last 17 years. Yet, at the same time the figures show the existence of huge disparities across the regions and gender, with deep pockets of poverty among the adult population.

The rural areas recorded a dramatic decline in the incidence of poverty from 81.6 percent to 37.4 percent, a significant decline of about 44 percent, while the urban areas showed a decline of about 24.3 percent, during the same period. Poverty varies significantly between the administrative regions of Namibia.

The incidence of poverty is currently estimated at 28.7 percent of the population with more women at 32 percent than men at 26 percent being poor.

About 37.4 percent of the poor live in rural areas compared to 14.6 percent in urban areas. The depth of poverty is estimated at 8.8 percent, while poverty severity is 3.9 percent. The incidence of severely poor individuals is estimated at 15.3 percent, while the poverty gap among the severely poor is estimated at 4.2 percent.

At location levels, the incidence of the severely poor is estimated at 7.0 percent in urban areas compared to 20.4 percent in rural areas.

Monthly consumption among the poor adult population was N$145.88 for 1993/94, and N$262.45 for 2003/04 and 377.96 for the year 2009/10, while the consumption rate for the severely poor was N$106.78 for 1993/94, N$184.56 for 2003/04 and N$277.54 for 2009/10.

The region with the most poverty is Kavango where more than half of the population was reported to be poor. Oshana has reported a reduction of 61.2 percent in poverty levels, making it the region that reduced poverty more than any other.

The least poor region is Erongo with only 7.1 percent of the population classified in that category. Overall, most regions reported declining poverty except the Caprivi and Khomas regions that saw increases in poverty.

Poverty is concentrated in the rural areas of the country more than the urban areas. The age of the head of household also counts as poverty increases for those fifty years and above and therefore pensioners are the poorest people. Some of the main languages spoken in households are associated with poverty.

The Khoisan speaking population continues to be on the receiving end of poverty with most (68 percent) reported as poor. Overall poverty shows a declining trend in many aspects, from the first survey to the most recent one. However, inequalities still prevail as reflected in a higher Gini coefficient of 0.597 in 2009/2010.

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