Poor Get Helping Hand from EU

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK The European Commission has availed 53 million Euros, equivalent to N$413 million, to the Namibian Government’s efforts for poverty reduction through a programme that supports sustainable economic growth and improved basic social services. Yesterday, the Rural Poverty Reduction Programme (RPRP) was launched to raise the overall productivity, with a focus on poor and less advantaged people. To achieve these goals, the RPRP includes five poverty reduction components: institutional support to government and selected non-state actors; capacity building for land reform; support for rural access roads; support for rural water supply, as well as Decentralised Demand-Driven Actions (DDDA). An amount of Euro 15 million has been reserved for DDDA, a component that the Ambassador of the European Commission in Namibia, Antonius Brueser, views as vital for the achievement of the RPRP objective, that of reducing rural poverty through economic development. “While rural roads and rural water support will largely improve the likelihood of the target population, the DDD actions are meant to support income-generating activities of the population concerned,” he stated at the launch of the RPRP. He urged all actors involved in the fight against poverty to assist in the implementation of the DDDA. “In order to achieve the widest participation, it was decided to make a ‘Call for Proposals which will allow the non-state actors to fully participate in the implementation of the programme,” he stated. Although classified as a lower middle-income country, Namibia is regarded as one of the countries with the most unequal distribution of income and assets in the world. With about 66 percent of its population living in rural areas, depending mostly on subsistence farming and/or agriculture for their livelihoods, food insecurity and poverty are predominantly a rural phenomenon. Delivering his keynote address, Director-General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Helmut Angula said the country’s low level of economic growth and employment were the most fundamental causes of poverty in the country. Low incomes he said, prevent the poor from meeting their basic consumption needs and having access to a satisfactory diet or investing in better shelter, which cause poor health, and from paying the cost of education. “At the root of the problem is the fact that Namibia’s rural economy as with the economy generally remains chronically dualistic. On the one hand, the rural poor derive vital income and food from low-input, low-output farming systems, and on the other a small number of the rural rich produce for lucrative agricultural, tourist and other markets,” he stated. Angula said the best strategies to reduce poverty were those that address the cause of poverty and empower the poor to earn their livelihoods, control their own destiny and participate fully in society. “Therefore, to maximise impact, our efforts must be integrated, and to ensure they respond to local needs they are best coordinated at the local as well as the national levels,” he stressed, and appealed to regional councils to also support the RPRP. The Directorate for Development Planning in the NPC will be responsible for the coordination and management of the programme with assistance from task teams and groups of technical assistants.

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