New Era (Windhoek)

5 December 2012

Namibia: Holiday Destinations for Poor and Rich

opinion

Windhoek — It is December and once again time for the festive season when families across the country embark on their annual holiday forays.

While households in the more affluent suburbs prepare to travel outside the borders of the country, the majority of Namibians will be staying put either at their homes or visiting family and friends.

For some families, however, there is nothing festive about the festive season, as they battle to survive in a country with one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in the world.

While some families prepare to travel to the Namibian coast, South Africa, Mauritius and even as far as Europe and the Americas, others told New Era they will only be travelling to the north of the country to visit relatives, while others will be spending the festive season at home. This incongruousness in festive season destinations is indicative of the huge gap between the rich and poor in Namibia.

According to Namibia's Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES) of 2009/2010 the country's GINI-coefficient is 0.5971, which was calculated on the adjusted per capita income for every single household member.

In the NHIES of 2003/2004 this figure was 0.6003.

In Scandinavian countries, where income is fairly evenly distributed based on a global perspective, the GINI-coefficient is around 0.25.

A GINI-coefficient, which ranges from 0 to 1, is a summary of statistics of the Lorenz Curve, and is a measure of the income distribution in a country. It compares the actual distribution to a totally equal distribution. An equal distribution of income gives a coefficient close to zero and the more unequal the distribution the closer the number is to 1. The coefficient provides different results depending on how it is calculated.

In the 2009/2010 survey the Gini-coefficient was calculated on the adjusted per capita income of every single Namibian household member, which, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), provides a more accurate result.

In the 2009/2010 NHIES, which was compiled by the NSA, total annual household consumption was estimated at almost N$29 billion. The average household consumption was N$65 348, while per capita consumption was estimated at N$13 813.

A massive disparity was also identified between urban areas, which accounted for close to twice that of rural households' consumption.

The NSA found that the highest per capita consumption took place in the Khomas Region followed by the Erongo Region, while the lowest figures were observed in the Kavango, Oshikoto and Caprivi regions, which only registered half of the national average of consumption per capita.

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