By Petronella Sibeene
Namibia Development Trust (NDT) launched a billboard on the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) last week as a way to amplify the message on poverty in the country and to accelerate action in addressing the problem.
The launch of a GCAP billboard, according to the Namibia Non-Governmental Organisation’s Forum (Nangof) Chairperson Ronny Dempers, is a call to all to stand up and speak out in unity and stamp out poverty in Namibia.
Poverty is a daily reality that scars the face of the country.
A recent Household Income and Expenditure Survey shows that 28 percent of households in Namibia are classified as poor with over 60 percent of their income spent on food.
A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report reveals that human poverty in the country is on the increase (33 percent from 29 percent). Six percent of urban and 45 percent of rural dwellers live in poverty.
GCAP Ambassador in Namibia Veronica de Klerk says many communities in the country are exposed to the hardships of collective poverty.
Defining poverty as hunger, lack of shelter, lack of access to school, being jobless, powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom and being sick and not being able to see a doctor, De Klerk said Namibians cannot rest.
Poverty characterises the lives of the majority in the country and according to De Klerk, inequality in the distribution of wealth counts among the highest in the world.
She said democratic participation and changes in economic structures are needed to ensure access to resources by all.
“The poverty problem cannot be solved if the majority of the population is denied full participation in decision-making,” said De Klerk.
The world over, poverty carries the face of a woman, thus De Klerk called for the inclusion of Namibian women in decision-making.
The GCAP ambassador and also community developer described efforts by GCAP as a call to justice, not only for the poor but for the affluent as well.
“It is an urgent call to action, to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, or can have shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence and to have a voice to address the injustices against the voiceless,” she said.
Another Namibian Ambassador of GCAP Reverend Dr Zephania Kameeta described poverty in Namibia as a scandal that needs to be eradicated.
He said the problem lies in the distribution of accumulated wealth found only in the hands of a few individuals.
Dr Kameeta stated that the time has come for Namibia to apply a frontal approach in addressing this problem.
“We need action and now. Being rich in a poor society is like swimming in a river with crocodiles,” he said.
He meant poverty does not only affect the poor but also the rich.
“Let us lift one another out of the hell of poverty into a paradise of human dignity,” he said.
NDT is a civil society organization that spearheads the anti-poverty campaign in Namibia in line with the commitment made by governments towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) in 2000.