The government of Namibia has made a clear commitment towards addressing poverty and inequality. Several policies were adopted since independence as an acknowledgement of how the social harmony had been endangered by poverty. Vision 2030 and other national development plans (NDPs) are testimony of the political will towards minimising poverty.
According to the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure (NHIE) 2015/2016 Key Poverty Indicators report, during the survey people who were not able to at least spend N$389.30 per month on basic necessities were considered severely poor. If a person was not able to at least spend N$520.80 per month on basic needs they were considered to be poor.
Such surveys are conducted to help inform government and other development agencies in planning intervention mechanisms in the country. I believe this information should find its way back to the grassroots, so they begin to realise the need to change habits that are breeding poverty in our society.
This article tries to bring this subject home by interrogating some of the simple things that are usually left out; hence they have a significant contribution in creating confinements of disadvantage in Namibia.
There is an African proverb, which says: ‘A child is raised by a society’. To begin with, when a child is born, it needs a family to provide all the support systems for it to grow as a child. The society around this child has a contribution in nurturing it to become a responsible citizen in future.
A child raised by both parents has the physical and moral support needed. This makes a family an initial tool required to dismantle poverty at the early childhood development level. As a result, when both parents are committed to their home they collectively form the foundation of cultivating the potential of their child.
If a child is shown love, recognition, appreciation and encouragement the magnitude of positivity that is instilled is unlimited. Given this best-case scenario, parents at home take up their duty to better prepare the child to be ready to face the life ahead. I would confidently say poverty is first fought at home. Could you believe it that families or society can contribute in creating clusters of poverty?
When society does not take time to look at certain habits and how they contribute in cementing poverty traps, it simply means they cannot take corrective action to transform such conducts. This entails you have a people that continue with business as usual when there is need to give special attention to how patterns of disadvantage manifests amongst themselves.
Poor people have their own culture and a set of distinctive values that they practice and as such they are kept under the abject of poverty from generation to generation. Today we have several children being raised by single mothers who cannot single-handedly take these children out of poverty.
Here in Namibia there is a norm whereby girlfriends beget babies for their boyfriends as a way of symbolising their commitment.
Most of these children are sent to the communal areas to stay with their grandparents, where they are raised while the two lovebirds are playing it cool to commit to marriage. The unfortunate child is raised without a caring father at home to inspire it and give it a good start at home. This habit is confining these children in circles of disadvantage.
On the other hand, some children are raised in violent and abusive environments where they are denied the right to family love. Their memories are endowed with hate and despair. When they reach adulthood they are individuals who have no respect for others, because they are raised in that manner.
Most children in Namibia are not given access to education. The majority even gets to adulthood without attaining basic education. Some children are left to give up education at Grade 10 and parents conform to such suicidal actions.
This is happening in an economy where there is a shift from manufacturing to service based job related opportunities, which requires specific skills that are not readily available. The more this continues the more poverty exists among many Namibians.
Some of these practices should not be left to continue, because they are happening at a time when people are also migrating to cities were these skills are required the most. As long as family is not going to wake up to this call and continue with these casual habits. They are just contributing towards formal impoverishment traps.
Families should begin to realise the importance of investing in their children’s early education and imprint this culture as a necessity. But the unfortunate part is that people are not ready to commit themselves to family, but are prepared to make babies and spend time with their beer.
Already these are people that have more disadvantages; they do not have adequate resources necessary to get out of poverty, such as formal education, financial stability and meaningful connections. But they continue in behaviour that further weakens their children’s future, making it impossible for them to break the cycle of disadvantage.
This is one of the reasons why there are high levels of drug abuse among school children today – because their upbringing is exposing them to that. Some that can send their children to school may not be adequately supporting their children by making time at home to implant the thirst for education in their young ones.
Poverty does not just happen. There are series of events and factors that continue due to family negligence. Someone somewhere decided not to play their role in discontinuing the poverty cycle and allowed the inheritance of this unjust hardship.
* Gilbert Mandaga is a student of Public Management at the National University of Science and Technology. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org