The purpose of this article is to inform the public about the new facets of the poverty eradication initiative which have been fostered and propelled by the utmost commitment and dynamism of His Excellency Dr Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, and the government through the Participatory Poverty Eradication Drive (PPED) of the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
Firstly, since independence in 1990, reduction of poverty and income inequality have been a main focus and the stated objective of the government as can be seen in the National Development Plans (NDPs), Vision 2030 and other government development initiatives.
Accordingly, realisation of the abovementioned objectives had been part and parcel of the mandates of many ministries, offices and agencies of the government in various proportions.
This was not good enough as the priority and focus were lost in various proportions in the reduction of poverty and income inequality efforts. As poverty has been the burning issue, the need for a central authority to spearhead the subject matter head-on became an urgent concern and top priority. The expectations of the nation to be on par with developed countries cannot be postponed until Vision 2030, or until such time that the country celebrates the golden jubilee in 2040.
In other words, silver jubilee celebrations marked the necessity for a turnaround strategy not only to declare war against poverty but also to win the war in a well-articulated and holistic manner. This was the beginning of PPED.
Secondly, in view of the abovementioned objective, it paved the way for the establishment of the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare (MPESW) under the leadership of the president and a minister who is highly knowledgeable and conversant on the subject matter, together with unprecedented obligations to the improvement of the welfare of the poor. The two deputy ministers and the permanent secretary within MPESW should also be commended for uniting in the campaign to eradicate poverty. In the light of the above, it is pertinent to state that not only has government given its utmost priority to poverty eradication but also its endeavour to mandate the right people with the task at the right time. This has in turn fostered the way for PPED.
Thirdly, the commitment of the government to poverty eradication is vindicated by the fact that MPESW is located in the office of the president. This is vitally important because commitment to poverty eradication alone is not sufficient as its implementation to generate the expected results in the eyes of the president is also crucially important. The country and its citizens believe the president because this is the first time that the country’s leadership want to see solid and sustainable results within a given time.
The head of state is serious and keen about this unresolved issue. As far as I know this is the first time a head of state on the African Continent (perhaps in the world) is so committed to win the war against poverty by 2025 in line with the global deadline for poverty eradication of 2030, as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. This is the profound difference compared to the previous efforts to reduce poverty and income inequality.
In fact, the leader leads the priority of economic and social welfare devlopment of the country. This is a noteworthy movement that the nation is convinced about since independence with respect to poverty eradication. This has further enriched PPED.
Fourthly, the war against poverty through PPED has been well-founded with participation, contribution, cooperation, collaboration, coordination and support of all ministries, offices, agencies, regional governors, traditional leaders and other main stakeholders as was seen by the launch of the National Dialogue on Wealth Re-Distribution and Poverty Eradication on 14 August 2015 at Nampower Convention Centre, Windhoek.
As it was reported, this was the first time such a high-level gathering was seen since independence in which the president, the first lady, the vice-president, the prime minister, ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries, UNDP and other distinguished dignitaries presented and graced the occasion for a worthy cause of the poor and the nation.
This gathering, among many things, demonstrated how the country’s leadership is dedicated and committed to poverty eradication by making an “All-Inclusive Team” generate the expected results. The “All-Inclusive Team” gave strong signals that poverty will eventually be eradicated.
The launch of the National Dialogue on Wealth Re-Distribution and Poverty Eradication was historic and ambitious for the PPED. In the light of the above, it is sufficient to state that leadership has the capacity and ability to lay a solid foundation to transform the vision of poverty eradication into reality.
Fifthly, equipped with the blessings of the abovementioned solid foundation, the MPESW went to 14 regions or the grass-roots to collect information and evidence through PPED to continue with the enthusiasm and collective wisdom of the Windhoek Dialogue. Many of the previous development policies, objectives and strategies failed to generate the expected results because of a lack of or inadequate constructive consultations, contributions and feedback from the people who are intended to be the beneficiaries of the expected developmental outcomes. This conviction is the anchor of PPED.
In other words polices, plans and strategies should be founded and implemented based on the people at the grass-roots in which the majority are poor. This is vitally important for an unprecedented undertaking such as poverty eradication.
In fact, the business as usual model had to be changed. In this respect, participation and contribution by 14 regions fall under the wider sense of the concept of PPED, which has been seen for the first time since independence. This PPED added new facets to the poverty eradication endeavour in many ways.