Namibia: 43 Percent of Namibians Are Still Poor

ABOUT half of Namibia's population still lives in multidimensional poverty with limited access to health and education services.

People whose main spoken language is Khoisan are poorer, with the highest headcount ratio of 93% compared to other language groups.

Those who speak Rukavango (68%) and Zambezi languages (54%) are also worse off than other language groups in terms of access to basic services such as health and education.

This is according to Namibia's latest multidimensional poverty index (MPI) report launched by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) yesterday.

The report states that at least 43,3% of Namibia's population is multidimensionally poor and on average, 44% of the population experiences a certain level of weighted deprivations.

MPI is a multidimensional measure of poverty developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford.

The index assesses the simultaneous deprivations that are experienced by people in a society, based on several identified dimensions of poverty in a particular setting.

The national MPI was designed to provide updated multidimensional poverty statistics to inform policy and programmatic design and implementation.

It is used as data to guide coordinated policy actions by several offices, ministries and agencies "[to] provide clear goals and targets for each indicator, and act as a monitoring and accountability tool".

The report states that the national multi-dimensional poverty index for Namibia has been adjusted and contextualised to better reflect the specific context and development priorities of the country.

The latest report was, therefore, based on three dimensions, that is, the population's living standards, health and education.

It considered the poverty indices at various population sub-groups such as urban/rural, region, sex of head of household, main language spoken in the household, household-size and age-group.

It concludes that people in Namibia's rural areas are multidimensionally poorer than those living in urban areas, with at least 59,3% and 25,3%, respectively.

"This indicates that persons in rural areas have a higher chance of experiencing multiple deprivations than those in urban areas," the report reads.

The two Kavango regions (East and West) record the highest multidimensional poverty at 70% and 79,6%, respectively, followed by the Kunene region at 64,1%.

The lowest rates are found in Erongo (15,7%) and //Kharas (21,1%).

Regarding sex of household heads, the report shows that multidimensional poverty is higher among female-headed households (46%) than male-headed households (41%).

In addition, as household size increases, the rate of multidimensional poverty also increases.

The population of people whose main spoken language was English and German reported the lowest head count ratios of multidimensional poverty, at 3% each.

"It is noted that while progress has been made in reducing monetary poverty to 16,7%, more than 43,3% of Namibia's population is still living in multidimensional poverty. This calls for a deliberate and coordinated policy response to deal with the various deprivations that continue to impact on the well-being of many households and their children," the report states.

NSA chief executive officer Alex Shimuafeni at the launch yesterday said the poverty thresholds outlined in the report are particularly useful for the creation of poverty profiles, "estimating deprivation indices as well as implementing poverty social impact analysis on the poor and the vulnerable population".

He said the poverty statistical measures are used to guide policy interventions aimed at eradicating poverty, as stipulated in the country's national and international developmental frameworks (Vision 2030, national development plans and the UN Sustainable Development Goals).

Shimuafeni, however, said the level of multidimensional poverty in Namibia could worsen because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country's economy.

"The virus has sent shock waves through the local and global economies. People are worried about their lives and livelihoods. Many businesses are either closed or waiting for customers to return," he said.

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