Connected African Girls CodingA global gender gap exists in internet usage and this gap is the largest in Africa. In 2022, the Connected African Girls Coding Camp is teaming up with the government of Namibia, U.N. Namibia, U.N. Women and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to host a two-week coding training camp dedicated to African females aged 12 to 25. This is the fifth time the camp is happening and 100 girls from Namibia will attend along with 2,000 girls from all over the African continent who will join virtually. Instructors will teach in both English and French to be inclusive for all participants. The coding camp runs from 16-24 August 2022 and will be hosted at the Windhoek Palm Hotel in Namibia.

Background

In Africa, internet usage is low in comparison to other regions of the world. Just 35% of men use the internet and an even lower 24% of women are digitally active, according to an ITU 2021 report. In addition, African women are less likely to own mobile phones, use a mobile phone on a daily basis, own a phone with internet access, own computers or access the internet regularly compared to African men.

In a world that continues to grow digitally, technological knowledge becomes a prerequisite for many professional fields. There is a correlation between the limited number of women in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) fields and the gender gap in internet usage. Without teaching women how to access and use the internet, the difficulty for women to participate in STEAM fields will remain and the gender gap will broaden.

Many groups are currently working to connect more women to the internet in Africa. The African School on Internet Governance, U.N. Women and many other organizations focus on eliminating certain barriers that prevent digital inequity. These include, for example, “unavailable or unaffordable access, low digital literacy and confidence and lack of relevant content,” The Washington Post reports.

The Boot Camp

The Connected African Girls Coding Camp also aims to reduce this gap by teaching young African women and girls the foundational skills to “find long-term success in education, employment and entrepreneurship while creating a conducive environment for collaborative efforts.”

The coding camp consists of four workshops that each teach the participants a different tech-related skill. These include “animation, web development & gaming, IoT & robotics and 3D printing.” The main workshops are accompanied by courses on topics such as “artificial intelligence, design thinking and computational thinking.” The training camp will also run master classes on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063 as well as gender-based violence and “personal development skills.”

On the last day of the camp, the participants will attend “an innovation fair” where the girls will showcase the projects they developed during the camp. These projects stand as potential solutions to tackling Africa’s socio-economic issues and barriers. During “the last four editions of the coding camp,” participants created 198 innovative projects. The program recognized 40 of these programs as “contributions to the community.”

Looking Ahead

The Connected African Girls Coding Camp aims to do more than teach thousands of young women and girls the foundations of technology and promote access to Information Technology and Communications (ICT). It hopes to empower them to thrive in the tech industry as a whole and build the confidence they need to be successful. Furthermore, organizers of the boot camp hope that participants will make meaningful connections throughout the two weeks.

– Jordan Oh
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap In Namibia
Namibia ranks sixth in the Global Gender Gap Report of 2021, the highest-ranked African country for bridging the gap between women and men economic opportunity, educational attainment, health and political empowerment measure. In just nine years, Namibia has climbed 35 spots, excelling past Canada and the United States in the Global Gender Gap Report. A closer look at Namibia’s history provides insight into actions taken to bridge this gap and how the gender wage gap in Namibia still plays a role in society today.

Post-Independence Namibia Focuses on Gender Equality

Prior to Namibia gaining independence, many considered women the property of men. When Namibia gained full independence from South Africa in 1990, it implemented numerous changes aimed at improving gender equality, as well as equality for all, in the new constitution. Article 10 states that “[n]o persons shall be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, color, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status,” emphasizing Namibia’s commitment to equality.

Also, the Married Persons Equality Act became law in 1996. The act allows women to sign contracts, register a property in their name and act as directors of companies. Women in Namibia hold about 44% of the managerial professions.

In the year 2013, “Namibia’s ruling party, the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO),” implemented a 50/50 gender policy that requires “equal representation of men and women” in parliament. At the time of the policy creation, women filled only 25% of the positions in parliament. Currently, women occupy 44% of the seats in parliament, proving that the gender policy has been effective in adding more women to work in government roles. The government’s adoption of these policies aid in creating a more inclusive environment for women in Namibia, particularly in political and urban settings.

More Women Seek an Education

Women in Namibia are leading their male counterparts in post-secondary education with a tertiary education enrollment rate of 30% for women and 15% for men. At the largest university in Namibia, the University of Namibia (UNAM), 64% of the students are women while only 36% are men. Many women continue on to obtain their master’s degrees or doctoral degrees. Once out of school, the labor force participation rate for women drops below men at 57% and 64% respectively. Even though more women seek secondary education than men, women earn less than men in several industries.

While the gender wage gap in Namibia is less prominent than that of many other countries, the distribution of wealth is immensely unequal. According to the Gini index, which measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income, Namibia ranks second-highest in comparison to all other countries in the world. Namibia has one of the highest Gini index ratings because of its high unemployment rate, with women more likely to experience unemployment. About 64% of Namibians survive on less than $5.55 per person per day, which equates to slightly more than $2,000 a year. The average amount U.S. citizens spend on a summer vacation is roughly the same.

Namibians Continue to Reach for Gender Equality

Much like other patriarchal societies, when women and men reach for equality, there are often roadblocks along the way. While women in Namibia now occupy 44% of the positions in parliament, they are still shy of the 50% goal of the 50/50 gender policy. The gender wage gap in Namibia has narrowed significantly, but there is still massive inequality concerning family income distribution. There is also an underlying dialogue in Namibia that women are inferior to men. Sexual and gender-based violence is prevalent due to societal and cultural norms. In fact, among the age group of 15 to 49, 28% of women and 22% of men in Namibia believe a husband beating his wife as a form of discipline constitutes a justifiable act. These beliefs contribute to a culture of gender inequality, which often proliferates inequalities in the workplace and perpetuates traditional gender roles.

Fortunately, the government is continuing to implement policies beneficial to gender equality. Additionally, women are pursuing secondary education at astounding rates, which is crucial in combating gender-based disparities as well as decreasing the gender wage gap in Namibia.

– Amy Helmendach
Photo: Flickr

Menstrual Health in NamibiaOn March 17, 2021, Namibia made the decision to no longer tax menstrual products beginning in the 2022-23 financial year. Currently, these products are taxed 15%, which makes it difficult for many to afford these essential items. The removal of this tax is an important change wherever it takes place. It is especially significant in places like Namibia where 73% of households do not even have adequate handwashing facilities. The tax elimination will not fix all issues related to the inaccessibility of menstrual products, however, it is a major step toward improving menstrual health in Namibia.

The Cycle of Period Poverty

Menstrual health is vital to one’s overall health. Globally, one in five girls misses school due to limited access to menstrual products. This means girls are missing up to one week of school every month. Consequently, students may find it difficult to keep up with their classmates and succeed in school. As getting an education is one of the most effective ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty, this puts girls at an even greater disadvantage and maintains the cycle of poverty.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as period poverty. Period poverty is an unfortunate reality in Namibia and across the world. The goal of eliminating tampon tax and increasing the availability of menstrual products is to ensure no one misses opportunities simply because they are menstruating. Moreover, no one deserves to have to choose between buying sanitary products or buying food. Furthermore, no one should have to miss work or school simply because they cannot afford menstrual products. Making these products more easily available will reduce poverty and improve menstrual health in Namibia and around the world.

Women resort to alternatives such as rags, paper towels or old pads when they do not have access to menstrual products. The use of these items puts girls at risk of infections. The inaccessibility of sanitary products has also been linked with poor mental health and overall distress. These effects are easily preventable when menstrual products become accessible.

Menstrual Stigma

Many people do not consider menstrual health when trying to improve overall health. In many parts of the world, menstruation is considered unclean and shameful. This prevents many women from participating in society while menstruating. Access to menstrual products, like any other products that improve sanitation and health, is a human right. Regulations removing menstrual tax make these products more affordable and accessible. The removal of tampon tax will not take away the stigma surrounding menstruation, however, it will help protect people from disease, improve mental health and ease the completion of daily tasks while menstruating.

Namibia’s deputy minister in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus, states, “Period poverty is one of the undignifying processes women and young ladies have to experience. Your period is such a natural process and not something they can opt out of. There are not enough social and economic circumstances to create safety for young women.” Since menstruation is a natural experience for nearly half of the population, equitable access to sanitary products should not be negotiable.

Addressing Period Poverty Globally

Namibia is not the first country to eliminate tampon tax, countries such as Kenya, India, Australia and South Africa have also done so. Other countries, such as Germany, have decreased the amount of tax. However, in most of the world, including most U.S. states, these essential items are still taxed, which makes menstrual products unavailable to many. The state of menstrual health in Namibia is sure to improve now that tampon tax is done away with. The rest of the world should look to Namibia as an example and make similar changes. Every girl and woman deserves to menstruate with dignity and Namibia is one step closer to making this a reality.

Harriet Sinclair
Photo: Flickr

Namibia's AGOA Utilization StrategySince 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been an important part of U.S. foreign and economic policies. It provides incentives for African countries “to open their economies and build free markets.” By promoting commercial ties, the U.S. benefits from trade with African countries that are eligible to participate. Additionally, the African countries also benefit from a growing and more prosperous economy. This enhanced development creates new jobs in underdeveloped countries and helps build a more sustainable economy, aiding in poverty struggles. Namibia, a sub-Saharan African country, is a prime example of the positive development and economic impacts of AGOA. Not only does Namibia implement AGOA with U.S. support, but on May 10, 2021, the country initiated the AGOA Utilization Strategy for tariff-free exports. Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy promises economic growth benefits for the country.

Namibia’s Background

Namibia is a country in Southwest Africa with a population of 2.5 million. The status of poverty in Namibia is not as extreme as in other African countries. Nevertheless, 28.7% of Namibians are impoverished and 15% live in extreme poverty.

While the World Bank classifies Namibia as upper-middle-income, the country still remains a developing country. Namibia has been negatively affected by social and economic imbalances stemming from apartheid, heavy agricultural reliance and structural inequality. Namibia’s Gini coefficient value reflects the immense suffering Namibians face due to socio-economic gaps. Namibia has a Gini coefficient of 0.597, establishing it as “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

In terms of economic freedom, Namibia boasts a sixth-place ranking out of 47 sub-Saharan African countries with an overall ranking scoring above regional and global averages. While Namibia’s economic success is positive in comparison to other African countries, the country still faces considerable socio-economic disparities and the U.N. still considers Namibia an underdeveloped country. With the introduction of AGOA into African economies, the development and economic growth of participating countries show a hopeful future for Africa.

AGOA Background

Former President Bill Clinton initiated the African Growth and Opportunity Act on May 18, 2000. Clinton initially designated 34 sub-Saharan African countries as eligible for AGOA, allowing for trade benefits between the U.S. and participating African countries. Not only would this law boost participating economies, but it also redefines U.S.-Africa relations. Today, about 40 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible to be AGOA beneficiaries.

Since the start of AGOA implementation, participants’ combined exports increased 500% from $8.15 billion to $53.8 billion between 2001 and 2011. The creation of AGOA through U.S. legislation proves favorable for African economic growth and aims to reduce poverty in the African continent.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy

While the implementation of AGOA in Namibia follows the passing of the U.S. legislation in 2000, Namibia only recently decided to make full use of the program. To fully utilize AGOA, U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, joined minister of industrialization and trade, Lucia Lipumbu, to launch the AGOA Utilization Strategy in Namibia in May 2021.

The new strategy seeks to increase Namibia’s U.S. exports to more than 6,400 tariff-free products. Additionally, the plan addresses policy, supply and market challenges faced in Namibian trade, using public and private sector representatives to execute the AGOA strategy.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy expands mutually beneficial trade, improving the economy and fostering alliance between the U.S. and Namibia. The African Growth and Opportunity Act proves helpful in strengthening economies, fostering development and encouraging global networking. Support for African growth and opportunity efforts is mutually beneficial for all those participating in the global market, with the ability to improve living standards in underdeveloped countries.

Kylie Lally
Photo: Flickr

Human trafficking in NamibiaAccording to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, more than 40 million people worldwide were trafficked into modern slavery as of 2016. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, this number was 7.8 million, making up 19% of the world’s trafficked population. In 2020, Namibia became the first African country to reach the rank of Tier 1 in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons report for its progress in eliminating human trafficking.

Measuring Human Trafficking

The most widely accepted and comprehensive measurement of human trafficking is the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the United States Department of State. The report measures countries on how well they prosecute human trafficking offenders, protect human trafficking victims and prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place. This system divides countries into three tiers and ranks them based upon what minimum standards of compliance they meet.

Firstly, Tier 3 countries do not meet minimum standards and do not attempt to comply. Tier 2 countries do not meet all of the minimum standards but actively work toward them. Ultimately, Tier 1 countries comply with the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. Still, that does not mean human trafficking completely ceases to exist in these countries. These tiers are diplomatic tools as well as a guide for the allocation of resources. For example, a Tier 2 county needs more international assistance than a Tier 1 country, while a Tier 3 country may face negative consequences such as trade restrictions.

Namibia’s Path to Tier 1

The United States Department of State identified Namibia as a “Special Case” in the 2008 TIP report. This designation means observers suspect the country of having a significant amount of human trafficking but there is not enough reliable data to determine its tier ranking. The specific concern with Namibia was that the country was engaged as both a source and destination for child sex and labor trafficking.

In 2009 Namibia moved up to Tier 2 sitting on the Watch List from 2012 to 2015. Namibia was removed from the Watch List but stayed at Tier 2 from 2016 to 2019. Since then, Namibia has taken significant steps toward eliminating human trafficking.

During the TIP reporting period for 2020 rankings, Namibia made sufficient improvements to move from Tier 2 to Tier 1. These improvements include:

  • Enforcing the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018
  • Prosecuting more human traffickers with stricter penalties
  • Identifying and caring for more victims
  • Launching an awareness campaign
  • Increasing prevention efforts and training

In 2020 alone, Namibia arrested 31 individuals for sex and labor trafficking and has 29 open investigations, compared to the investigation of nine cases in 2018. The government was also able to identify 30 victims of human trafficking, including 20 children. NGO shelters cared for all the victims.

Looking to the Future

Even countries with Tier 1 ratings have work to do to continue making steps toward the complete elimination of human trafficking and prevent backsliding. While Namibia has made dramatic improvements, the United States Department of State noted that training for frontline responders was not always adequate. Furthermore, there was some miscommunication between different government and civil sectors. To continue on its current path of progress, the Department of State recommends that Namibia improves training and coordination. The Department also recommends that Namibia’s government should continue to prosecute offenders and provide for victims. By continuously improving its services, Namibia can get closer to eliminating human trafficking and provide safer living conditions for its citizens.

– Starr Sumner
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in Namibia
Period poverty, a significant issue around the world, is an umbrella term that describes inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products, washing facilities, waste management and education. This lack of access impacts women and girls in Namibia, sometimes hindering their health and education. However, Eco-Sanitary Training, a local business, is stepping in to help.

Worldwide Period Poverty

Globally, there are 2.3 billion people that live without basic sanitation. About 73% live in homes without sufficient hand-washing facilities. This exacerbates period poverty, as it makes it almost impossible for women and girls to manage their periods.

In many places around the world, menstruation products are very hard to access due to high prices. Although these products are a necessity, many countries still tax them. In Hungary, the tax rate on feminine hygiene products in 2020 is 27%, followed by Sweden and Mexico with 25% and 16% respectively. Some of the countries where female sanitary items are tax-free include Ireland, Malaysia, Tanzania and Lebanon.

An example of how feminine hygiene products affect women is through the story of Suzana Frederick, a 19-year-old single mother who lives in Arusha, Tanzania. Frederick makes around 30,000 shillings ($13) monthly and spends between 1,500 and 3,000 shillings ($0.70 to $1.30) on sanitary products. The amount she spends on the products is 5% to 10% of her salary. This would be equivalent to an American woman with an average wage spending around $169 and $338 on sanitary products.

Period Poverty in Namibia

Period poverty has many consequences for women and girls in Namibia. According to Action Aid, “One in 10 girls in Africa miss school because they don’t have access to sanitary products, or because there aren’t safe, private toilets to use at school.” Many women and girls are also forced to use mattresses, clothes and newspapers every month because they cannot afford sanitary products.

A story from a girl who lives in Namibia revealed that she chose to get a contraceptive injection because her mother could not afford pads. Contraceptive injections – a birth control method of releasing hormones like progesterone to stop the release of an egg – are free in all governmental hospitals in Namibia. Unfortunately, the injections have side effects, including significant bone mineral density loss, and are not intended for regulating menstruation. Another girl, also from Namibia, mentioned that dating older men is the only option that some girls have to get the money needed to afford pads.

How a Local Business Has Helped

Eco-Sanitary Trading is a local business in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Around March 4, 2019, the business joined the local market to make affordable pads that are high in quality and can also be reused or discarded. The managing director of the business, Naomi Kefas, mentioned that she got the idea from the realization of the fact that many girls are missing school frequently due to their periods.

For two years, Kefas and her team did extensive research and traveled to places including South Africa, Kenya, India and China to invent a new sanitary pad. They then came up with a product called “Perfect Fit,” a locally produced sanitary pad with good quality and affordability. “Perfect Fit” is benefiting women and girls in Namibia.

Moving Forward

The work that Eco-Sanitary Trading is essential to reducing period poverty in Namibia. However, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations also step in. Moving forward, other barriers to menstrual hygiene products and facilities must be reduced, including high tax rates.

Alison Choi
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Nimiba
Namibia aims to improve the accessibility and quality of its healthcare system. Namibia is an upper-middle-income country located in southern Africa. Unfortunately, as it became an upper-middle-income country, Namibia’s healthcare fell behind. The country must overcome obstacles to continue improving its healthcare system. These obstacles include a shortage of doctors, inadequate funding and income inequality. The country also faces HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis crises. Despite its economic progress, Namibia has the sixth highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. This article covers this nation’s efforts to ensure its citizens have access to quality healthcare.

Healthcare Structure

Namibia gained independence in 1990. In its early years, the government declared healthcare a human right and made systemic changes to its healthcare system. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) formed. The MoHSS is responsible for implementing policy and delivering primary healthcare to Namibians.

Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world with about three people per square kilometer. According to The World Bank, 48.9% of Namibians live in rural communities. Therefore, providing access to healthcare is a significant challenge.

Namibia’s healthcare system consists of four distinct components: intermediate and referral hospitals, clinics, health centers and district hospitals. Each component has a unique role and specialized medical staff. For example, nurses staff clinics who provide basic care. People receive referrals to a health center or a district hospital for more serious cases. The most serious cases obtain treatment at intermediate and referral hospitals. Namibia houses “1150 outreach points, 309 health centers [and] 34 district hospitals.”

Namibia’s bed-to-population ratio is equivalent to that of higher-income countries including New Zeland and Norway. However, because of Namibia’s low population density, about 21% of Namibians live more than 10 km away from a health provider. The MoHSS partners with private organizations like USAID SHOPS to provide mobile health clinics. Mobile health clinics help reach rural communities in Namibia. They provide a range of services including immunizations, health education and HIV tests. Both the private and public sectors fund the mobile health network.

Funding Healthcare

In 2014, Namibia spent $200 million to prevent and treat HIV cases. Unfortunately, despite the work of the MoHSS, the leading cause of death is from non-communal diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In 2019, approximately 210,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Namibia; about 11.5% of these adults and children are between 14 and 49. Thankfully, Namibia is not alone in fighting against the virus; organizations including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention help with technical assistance and workforce recruiting.

The Namibian government aims to spend 15% of its GDP on healthcare. However, Namibia only spent about 8.6% of GDP on healthcare in 2017. Funding from donors has been declining since Namibia’s reclassification in 2009. The decrease is because of Namibia’s reclassification as an upper-middle-income country. In 2008, donors made up 22% of the country’s healthcare funding. In 2017, donors funded 7% of Namibia’s healthcare expenditure.

A variety of other sources fund Namibia’s healthcare system: 19% from the private sector, 11% from households and 63% from the government. Namibia needs additional funding to improve its healthcare system, especially as its GDP growth slows. Additionally, healthcare costs will increase as the country’s population ages.

Healthcare Workforce

Another of Namibia’s largest healthcare problems is the lack of public doctors. There are more private doctors than public doctors in many regions of the country. In Hardap, 80% of the doctors work in the private sector. A shortage of public doctors increases the cost of healthcare. According to The World Bank, there are approximately 1,222 doctors; 784 doctors work in the public sector and 438 work in the private sector. Half of Namibia’s physicians work in Khomas, the region containing Namibia’s capital. In 2018, there were approximately 0.33 doctors for every 1,000 people.

Namibia is working to address the shortage of public doctors; the Namibian government is supporting medical students’ education, hoping doctors and nurses will enter the public sector. In 2019, Namibia sponsored about half of its medical students.

Many issues persist within the Namibian healthcare system. Fortunately, groups like the Namibian government and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention have dedicated themselves to improving healthcare in Namibia. Hopefully, by making investments like supporting medical students’ education, Namibia will improve its healthcare system.

Joshua Meribole
Photo: Unsplash

Homelessness in Namibia Namibia, neighbored by Zambia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa is a West African country home to one of the world’s largest deserts. The legacy of colonialism and apartheid in Namibia has contributed greatly to the population’s present social struggles. The extreme inequality and dispossession are the cause of the bleak circumstances for Namibia’s poor. One of those circumstances today is homelessness in Namibia.

Facts About Poverty in Namibia

Namibia’s rate of unemployment is 33.4%, and 20% of the population lives in the slums. In 2017, Namibia has rated the second most unequal country in the world, second only to South Africa. A 2018 study showed that greater than 90% of Namibians do not qualify for a housing loan, and thus are unable to buy houses. Additionally, the price of housing continues to skyrocket, excluding low-income households from purchasing homes. It was estimated in 2016 that nearly 90% of Namibians earned less than N$2,700 a month, which in itself excludes them from mortgage eligibility.

Homelessness in Namibia

In Namibia, there is an alarmingly high number of people who have dwellings but no formal houses. The rate of shacks to brick houses rose to 4:1 by 2016. The informal settlements that have arisen out of peoples’ need for housing lack potable water, electricity or toilet facilities. This lack of resources increases the population’s susceptibility to diseases such as cholera, polio and Hepatitis E. In addition, shack fires are common occurrences, often resulting in loss of life. Homeless people in Namibia often take refuge in unused city buildings, on park benches, in abandoned houses and under bridges.

In the age of COVID-19, the Namibian government has rounded up hundreds of Namibia’s homeless people. Additionally, the government provides tent shelters for homeless people and encourages them to seclude themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. Moreover, concerns over sanitation have arisen, especially as certain members of the population have tuberculosis (TB). Food is provided by churches, but it is not enough. The beds are reportedly too close together to comply with social distancing.

Solutions to Help Reduce Homelessness in Namibia

On the bright side, in 2018, Hage Geingob, Namibia’s president,  issued a statement addressing the housing crisis. He called the state of affairs a “humanitarian crisis.” The president announced that a N$10 million donation would be given to the Namibia Shack Dweller’s Federation by Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) to build 270 low-cost houses throughout the country. The Namibia Shack Dweller’s Federation is a group of Namibians seeking adequate housing for themselves and their communities. The Shack Dweller’s Federation is able to secure land for community members in need through community savings and government contributions. In addition, the group had about 25,000 members as of March 2020. Most of the members are women making under N$4,000 monthly. The Shack Dweller’s Federation has built over 3488  houses to date, which has been distributed to new homeowners.

MTC is Namibia’s leading digital enabler. MTC announced a performance competition, “MTC Knockout Project,” among 30 public personalities. Additionally, corporations will have the opportunity to pledge N$50 thousand on behalf of any of the competing personalities. The goal is to raise N$1 million to combat homelessness in Namibia.

The housing situation in Namibia is in crisis. This is due to high land prices, low wages, high unemployment rate and high mortgages rates. Luckily, the government and other organizations are working to combat these issues. Additionally, with the building of affordable housing, the increase of viable job opportunities and the support of food banks, homelessness in Namibia will sharply decrease in the coming years.

Elise Ghitman
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Namibia
Even as one of the eight countries in Africa classified as an upper-middle-income country, Namibia is still striving overall to eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. The implementation of new socioeconomic structures from the Namibian government and partnering initiatives will soon make the vision of no poverty in Namibia a reality.

Living Below the Poverty Line

Of the nation’s population of 2.5 million people, 17.4% were living below the poverty line in 2015 and 2016. This is a drastic decrease of over 11% between 2009 and 2010 when 28.7% of the population lived below the poverty line. This progress aside, environmental conditions and employment rates have inhibited the growth of economic status and societal wealth in Namibia.

Although the poverty line decreased in 2016, unemployment remained at a steady rate of 34%. Unemployment was more likely to affect women at 38.3%, and youth counterparts suffered at a rate of 43.4%. The rates of poverty and unemployment are dependent on people’s surroundings. Youth living in rural areas are likely to experience more difficulty finding a job than those living in an urban setting.

Education in Namibia

Education in Namibia, similar to in the U.S., is a primary skill to have when looking for work. Therefore, poverty in Namibia significantly affects people who may not have access to education. This includes those living in rural areas, those disabilities affect and women. Inadequate access to education due to a lack of resources is more likely to affect people living in rural areas. Rural communities often have limited access to management, funding, technology and information. In many cases, these resources directly affect employment opportunities.

Unfortunately, one-third of students drop out of school before the 10th grade. This issue correlates to the lack of teaching qualifications, as more than 20% of teachers in Namibia have no formal qualifications. The number of students that continue to higher education also remains at a low estimate of 19%. To combat these challenges, there is a need for mobilization of employment policies to rural areas in Namibia.

The High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE)

The Namibian government appointed the HLPNE in March 2019 to respond to issues regarding “the path toward recovery and growth.” The seminar discussed economic inequalities, examining the investments and policies for the creation of jobs. According to the ILO, “The HLPNE has four pillars of work that include building a $1 billion investment portfolio, removing policy impediments, promoting Namibia for tourism and investment and creating employment opportunities.”

Honorable Erkki Nghimtina, Namibia’s labor minister, and Chair of the HLPNE Johannes Gawaxab both spoke during the seminar. They believe that the economy needs funding to gradually allow for job creation. In turn, this would balance the socioeconomic disproportion in Namibia. Tax incentives and government funding from private sectors and organizations would provide the ability to implement this, allowing the country’s economy to respond properly.

Vision 2030

Along with this, the Namibian government has created a developmental agenda to combat poverty in Namibia: Vision 2030. Vision 2030 enacts targets to create new and improved policies to form a more unified government between all sectors, both rural and urban. This agenda focuses on health care, education, housing and more in order to provide equal opportunity for those living in poverty in Namibia. Modernizing the economy within rural sectors will provide more funding and resources between schools. This will allow students to receive appropriate education, specifically developing skills needed for work in Namibia.

With help from new initiatives and improved policies and targets, awareness is emerging regarding poverty in Namibia. This awareness will allow for improvement upon the inequalities that still affect rural and urban sectors. These contributions will enable Namibia to continue making positive strides to eliminate poverty by 2030.

– Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in NamibiaAlthough Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still struggles with a high rate of poverty and undernourishment. According to the World Food Program, 26.9% of the country’s population lives in poverty. In addition, according to the U.N., 430,000 people are in desperate need of food. Namibia, since its independence, has seen good economic growth. The country’s GDP grew from $3.8 billion in 2000 to $12.3 billion in 2019. However, hunger in Namibia remains a growing issue.

Over the past years, the agriculture economy in Namibia has suffered from droughts. The reduction of produce from the food industry is causing hunger in Namibia as families struggle to grow enough food to feed their families. Hunger in Namibia is leaving many children and families malnourished which significantly affects the progress of the nation. Still, both the government and its partners are working to address hunger in Namibia.

Who Is Affected?

Over the past decade, Namibia has faced a lot of droughts leaving low-income-earners struggling to make a living. With a population of approximately 2.4 million people in 2018, 18% (430,000) of the country’s people face severe acute food insecurity and need humanitarian aid.

According to a government report, the country’s agriculture sector, which is partially powered by smallholder farmers, provides for most of the country’s population. Many families who are low income find it difficult to buy food because of increasing food prices.

Malnutrition in Namibia is also affecting children. According to the World Food Program, approximately 23% of children in Namibia are stunted in their growth because they do not eat enough nutritious food. Stunting can have a dangerous effect on the development of children and can even influence their behaviors as they grow older.

Causes of Hunger in Namibia.

In 2019, because of the lack of rain, Namibia food production, both its crops and livestock, fell. Namibia lost 60,000 tons of crops and 60,000 livestock. The two main crops that are planted are maize, which declined in production by 26% between 2018 and 2019, and millet, which declined by 89%. The lack of rain in Namibia hit cereal production the hardest.

The most affected regions of the country are Northwestern parts and the Southern provinces. Due to losses in sales from their livestock, some farmer’s households are finding it difficult to purchase food from markets. Currently, families in 14 regions in Namibia spend more than 50% of their income on food. The cause of drought in Namibia has been attributed to climate change, which is said to be only getting worse.

What Is Being Done?

To help fight against the hunger crisis, the government incorporated the Hunger Initiative in the Harambee Prosperity Plan in August 2016, a plan which is in action through 2020. The plan focuses on 5 different pillars: Effective governance, economic advancement, social progression, infrastructure development, international relations and cooperation. The fight against hunger falls into the Social Progression sector. According to a government report in 2019, Namibia’s government is addressing the country’s hunger crisis by making food banks available in 7 different regions in the country. These food banks reach 17,260 food-insecure households. To deliver food the government relies on unemployed youth who are part of Street Committees.

Government aid provided to people who are food-insecure varies. For example, between 2016 and 2017 the government spent $304 million on its drought program but only $5 million in 2017-2018 because the impact of the drought was lower. To provide malnourished children with food, the government uses a program called the School Feeding Programme. In 2017 they fed 377,521 students. According to the government, providing students with food helps limit the school dropout rate among students who live in poverty. The World Food Program is also helping the government fight malnutrition in children by providing Namibia with technical assistance; the group also helps the country with both policy and strategic guidance.

Furthermore, to help farmers, the government work also extends to provide them with 162 tractors to aid in the cost of plowing for communal farmers.

Although Namibia faces the constant threat of drought, the government and its partners are dedicated to providing nutritious food to many families in need.

Joshua Meribole
Photo: Flickr