Editorial: Good News Mixed With Bad

Editorial: Good News Mixed With Bad

GOOD news mixed with bad emerged with the release this week of the statistical report of the National and Regional Population Figure projections 2001-2031 as well as the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES) for 2003-2004.

Even though the results are preliminary for the NHIES survey, it appears as though Government is making progress in the fight against poverty. And, according to a senior economist with the United Nations Development Programme (see page 6), the 2006 targets for poverty and inequality set out in National Development Plan II seem to have been achieved ahead of schedule and Namibia finds itself in a small group of African countries that are on track to meet the Global Development Goal target of cutting poverty in half by the year 2015.The survey showed that progress in reducing the plight of the poorest of the poor in Namibia had been fast, again according to the UNDP economist, who added that the fall in what is known as the Gini Coefficient (a measure of inequality) from 0,7 in 1993-4 to 0,6 in 2003-4 should not be dismissed as insignificant.UNDP calculations on the survey, he said, showed that the income of the poorest 25 per cent of the population had increased three times as fast as the incomes of the richest one per cent.The UNDP therefore concluded that “when incomes of the poor rise faster than incomes of the rich, the poor are catching up and the outcome of the country’s economic and social policies can be said to be pro-poor”.There is little doubt that the value in these surveys lies in the fact, as outlined by the Director General of the National Planning Commission, Helmut Angula, when he launched the report this week, that the latest projects provided valuable information for planning and decision-making purposes, and especially in evaluating National Development Plan II and the formulation of NDP III, as well as monitoring implementation of development plans and programmes at national and regional levels.But while there is cause for optimism on the fall in the Gini Coefficient, at the same time it should not give reason for complacency because the gap between rich and poor in Namibia is still a huge gulf which needs to be bridged.Namibia is widely known as one of the most unequal societies in the world, and we still need to work a lot harder to reduce the gap and in so doing, reduce the stigma that has resulted from it.Poverty remains problematic most particularly in rural areas, where 42 per cent of households are classified as poor when compared with only 7 per cent in urban areas.The current population figures of an estimated 1,8 million are set to rise dramatically to 2,3 million in 2015, showing an annual growth rate of about 2 per cent.Interestingly, the report showed that the Erongo Region had the smallest average household size of 3,6 persons, while the largest were in Kavango, Ohangwena, and Omusati, with 6,4, 6,3 and 5,7 respectively.It should therefore come as no surprise that the Kavango Region has the highest poverty rate in the country, although this in turn is estimated to have fallen from 71 to 50 per cent.And while the ‘good news’ is a reduction in poverty and a big step closer to Namibia meeting the global Millennium Development goal of halving poverty by 2015, we still need to commit to more analysis of the information contained in abovementioned reports, so as to plan more effectively for the future.Hopefully the final set of results, due out in July this year, will take us further towards the goals of tackling major problems such as poverty and the still-yawning gap between rich and poor in order to reach the target of making Namibia a more equal society than is currently the case.And, according to a senior economist with the United Nations Development Programme (see page 6), the 2006 targets for poverty and inequality set out in National Development Plan II seem to have been achieved ahead of schedule and Namibia finds itself in a small group of African countries that are on track to meet the Global Development Goal target of cutting poverty in half by the year 2015.The survey showed that progress in reducing the plight of the poorest of the poor in Namibia had been fast, again according to the UNDP economist, who added that the fall in what is known as the Gini Coefficient (a measure of inequality) from 0,7 in 1993-4 to 0,6 in 2003-4 should not be dismissed as insignificant.UNDP calculations on the survey, he said, showed that the income of the poorest 25 per cent of the population had increased three times as fast as the incomes of the richest one per cent.The UNDP therefore concluded that “when incomes of the poor rise faster than incomes of the rich, the poor are catching up and the outcome of the country’s economic and social policies can be said to be pro-poor”.There is little doubt that the value in these surveys lies in the fact, as outlined by the Director General of the National Planning Commission, Helmut Angula, when he launched the report this week, that the latest projects provided valuable information for planning and decision-making purposes, and especially in evaluating National Development Plan II and the formulation of NDP III, as well as monitoring implementation of development plans and programmes at national and regional levels.But while there is cause for optimism on the fall in the Gini Coefficient, at the same time it should not give reason for complacency because the gap between rich and poor in Namibia is still a huge gulf which needs to be bridged.Namibia is widely known as one of the most unequal societies in the world, and we still need to work a lot harder to reduce the gap and in so doing, reduce the stigma that has resulted from it.Poverty remains problematic most particularly in rural areas, where 42 per cent of households are classified as poor when compared with only 7 per cent in urban areas.The current population figures of an estimated 1,8 million are set to rise dramatically to 2,3 million in 2015, showing an annual growth rate of about 2 per cent.Interestingly, the report showed that the Erongo Region had the smallest average household size of 3,6 persons, while the largest were in Kavango, Ohangwena, and Omusati, with 6,4, 6,3 and 5,7 respectively.It should therefore come as no surprise that the Kavango Region has the highest poverty rate in the country, although this in turn is estimated to have fallen from 71 to 50 per cent.And while the ‘good news’ is a reduction in poverty and a big step closer to Namibia meeting the global Millennium Development goal of halving poverty by 2015, we still need to commit to more analysis of the information contained in abovementioned reports, so as to plan more effectively for the future.Hopefully the final set of results, due out in July this year, will take us further towards the goals of tackling major problems such as poverty and the still-yawning gap between rich and poor in order to reach the target of making Namibia a more equal society than is currently the case.

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