Namibia: Cut Generational Poverty, IMF

18 September 2019

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that generational poverty will worsen if Namibian children's chances of progressing with education are hindered as this will reduce their future employability.

This was highlighted in feedback provided in a report issued last Friday after a consultative meeting between the fund and various country leaders.

The fund explained that despite a decline in overall poverty over the years, 20,6% of Namibian children are still languishing in poverty, and that the progress made in reducing child poverty is not enough as the current level is above the overall global poverty level.

"Child poverty declined from 34% in 2009/10 to 20,6% in 2015/16, but it is still higher than the overall poverty rate (17,4 %)," the IMF said.

The government currently offers N$250 in child grants to poor children per month, although more than 170 000 children do not benefit from this scheme. Inflation has also reduced the real value of the grant from the N$200 it was in 2000 to N$105 now, despite an increase in the grant amount.

"Children from rich households have lower primary and secondary education dropout ratios than children from poorer households," the IMF stated.

The fund thus urged the government to increase the benefits for children, and strive towards raising enrolment in secondary schools as a way of ameliorating the issue.

Furthermore, they noted that although commendable strides have been made by the government on investments made in social welfare by allocating about 1,5% of the national budget to child grants, inequality in Namibia is still one of the highest in the world.

Despite this, access to child grants is still inequitable across regions, while the system also does not sufficiently ensure that the most vulnerable have access to social assistance.

"Economic inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, also declined from 0,58 to 0,56 between 2009/10 and 2015/16. However, Namibia remains one of the most unequal countries in the world," the fund stressed.

Income inequality has risen for households which have attained lower education, compared to households that have attained secondary and tertiary education.

The IMF noted that the difference in the salaries of individuals who attained tertiary education and those who only have primary education has gone up.

"The top tenth of the Namibian population gets 73% of the national income, while their share is 65% in South Africa, and 54% in the sub-Saharan Africa, region as a whole," the fund added.

The IMF also highlighted that while employment is important to being well-off, it does not mean exiting the poverty cycle.

With the introduction of the vulnerable child grant in 2015, targeting children from households earning less than N$1 000 per month (US$73), the uptake of children on child grants has been steadily increasing, reaching close to 30% in 2017.

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