Extreme poverty at 18% – report

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Desie Heita

WINDHOEK – Just over 18 percent of the Namibian population – constituting 476,372 people – are currently living in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock.

As such, the country is ranked among those unable to reach the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target at the current poverty escape rate, the report further indicates.

Also in this group is neighbours Botswana, where 426,694 people are living in extreme poverty. Lesotho has 1,1 million people in extreme poverty, and South Africa 13,8 million people.
The World Poverty Clock – funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic

Cooperation and Development – uses publicly available data on income distribution, production, and consumption, provided by various international organisations, most notably the UN, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Angola, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria are the African countries where poverty levels continue to rise. In the whole of Africa, only Ghana, Mauritania and Ethiopia are said to be “able to escape poverty by 2030”. The statistics are based on standardised database on income which provides real-time projections on income levels for every individual in the world.

Those living in extreme poverty constitute 18,2 percent of the Namibian population, with the percentage level pegged at 0,1 percent relative to world, according to the World Poverty Clock.
In her first ever report submission to the UN SDGs Voluntary National Review in May 2018, Namibia noted that “there are several challenges that are currently impeding progress regarding the implementation and achievement of the [SDGs] goals”.

Among these challenges, Namibia said, are inequality and end poverty in all its form. Although inequality has over the course decreased, with the Gini-Coefficient improving from 0.58 to 0.56, inequality levels “remain high, resulting in Namibia being classified among the top 10 most unequal countries in the world”.

“There are still huge disparities in terms of who has access to sustainable income, productive assets, food, water, energy, and basic services. Whilst economic growth had consistently been recorded, the paradox is that growth had not translated into commensurate employment opportunities, resulting in high unemployment rates on the one side and increased levels of inequality on the other,” reads the report submission by Namibia.

The report noted that in terms of economic growth, over the past two years of 2016 and 2017, economic growth has slowed and is projected at 1.2 percent in 2018 and 2.1 percent in 2019, thereby negatively impacting on industrial and investment growth.

“Rural poverty has reduced significantly from 34 percent to 25.1 percent, although still remains a challenge, therefore much needs to be done to ensure that rural communities are emancipated,” said the report.
It also noted that on gender the proportion of women partaking in science and other high paying fields remain low, and this is something Namibia is working to address. Also, there are few women in positions of leadership compared to men.

In Namibia, women account for 35 percent of the wage employment in the agriculture sector and 51 percent of women are employed in the informal sector. Additionally, 27 percent of privately owned firms have female top managers and 43 percent of parliamentarians are women; and this represents an improvement from 25 percent in 2010. Furthermore, in the public sector, women in managerial positions account for 43 percent in relation to 57 percent of men.
“High poverty rates among women coupled with high unemployment rates poses a challenge to the attainment of gender equality and the economic empowerment of women,” said the report.

The World Poverty Clock notes that despite the fact that the global poverty rate has been halved since 2000, intensified efforts are required to boost the incomes, alleviate the suffering and build the resilience of those individuals still living in extreme poverty, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. “Social protection systems need to be expanded and risks need to be mitigated for disaster-prone countries, which also tend to be the most impoverished,” it said.

In 2013, an estimated 767 million people lived below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day — down from 1.7 billion people in 1999. That figure reflects a decrease in the global poverty rate from 28 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2013.

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