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The Legislative Plan to Fight Gender-Based Violence in NamibiaNamibia is a Southwestern African nation bordering the Atlantic ocean. With a population size of just over 2.6 million and a ratio of female to male just short of 1:1, Namibia is one of the more progressive African nations. Namibian places second out of 55 states on the continent in its efforts to reduce gender inequality. However, while it has made considerable progress, there are still lengths to go in reducing sexual and gender-based violence in Namibia.

The Pandemic of Gender-Based Violence in Namibia

Namibia’s Constitution contains several articles clarifying its mission toward gender equality. One is specifically dedicated toward recognizing the unique oppression and exclusion of women and vowing equity through legislation stating women should be “encouraged and enabled to play a full, equal and effective role in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the nation.” These priorities are included within the National Development Plan (2007-2012) as well as the National Gender Policy (2010-2020). Namibia participates in several international and regional agreements that encourage gender equality and female empowerment.

Even with these steps in place, it was noted by the Unesco Gender Equality Objective Outputs in 2013 that the implementation of legislation concerning gender-based violence in Namibia needed critical improvement. A 2013 Namibia Demographic Health Survey showed that 33% of Namibian women aged 15-49 had experienced some form of gender-based violence. In 2019, Namibia recorded 200 cases of domestic violence per month according to Hendrick Olivier, the commander of Namibia’s Gender-Based Violence Protection Unit.

A serious disparity exists between the gender equality legislation and the socio-cultural norms that are pervasive within Namibia. The old patriarchal cultural atmosphere, which has begun to fade with a new youth movement, places women as inferior to men. A survey for women and men between the ages of 15-49 showed that 28% of Namibian women justified physical violence as a sufficient disciplinary tactic, while 22% of Namibian men believed the same thing. This disparity is shown once again in the gendered labor force statistics, with only 52% of women actively participating compared to 63% of men. This statistic illustrates the deep-seated cultural belief in the differences in men and women that have perpetuated gender-based violence in Namibia.

The Youth Impact

Namibian youth are actively shifting the culture and utilizing social media in mobilizing their efforts against rampant femicide. After the murder of 22-year-old Shannon Wasserfall, protests were planned online to disrupt the Namibian economy. They were successful with a 4-day economic standstill in the capital of Windhoek. The protestors had three demands: a specific deadline for policy to be implemented, the resignations of the Gender Equality Minister and Deputy Doreen Sioka and Bernadette Jagger and the declaration of a state of emergency.

The Namibian Government took these demands seriously. On October 9, President Hage Geingob met with protest leaders to discuss demands. Where previous protests were regionally limited and short-lived, recent protests have had much larger youth participation and are widespread with the help of social media. After the meeting, the Namibian Government identified their course of action in a response letter. The Namibian Government assured protestors they understood the severity of gender-based violence in Namibia and the necessity for swift change.

Legislative Action Ahead

The response letter entails an entire reformation of the system with the implementation of multiple policies such as the Domestic Violence Act and the gender-based action plan. The Namibian Government has promised the establishment of a sexual offender registry as part of the Domestic Violence Act. An investigation into open and pending cases is already underway as well as the compilation of data on offenders to track and identify repeat offenders throughout the city. The government will also utilize existing court infrastructure to create sexual and gender-based violence courts to try offenders.

Additionally, a review of the sentencing laws will take place as the maximum sentence for sexual offenders is currently at 37.5 years. Victims will receive psycho-social support and education on their options moving forward from assault and possible trial. The government will also expand its armed patrols to 24/7 along with the creation of a special operations team. The response letter includes a plan to draw more financial support toward these measures. The cabinet has approved these policies and has made clear they expect to follow through with urgency.

The Future of Gender Equality in Namibia

Namibia is certainly on the road to curbing sexual and gender-based violence. Already present in Namibia was the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Unit as well as counseling and education for women involved in gender-based violence cases. There is a willingness to change Namibian culture and the adoption, implementation and reform of policies concerning gender-based violence are essential to expedite the alterations.

The letter of response to the protests is a step in the right direction to a future of gender equality in Namibia. The end of gender-based violence is on the horizon with the youth spearheading this modernized movement joined by full cooperation of the Namibian Government.

Lizzie Herestofa
Photo: Flickr

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%. Women were more likely to be affected by unemployment 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 affected by disabilities and women. People living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by inadequate access to education due to a lack of resources. 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 tenth 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 HLPNE was appointed by the Namibian government 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.”

Honourable Erkki Nghimtina, Namibia’s labour 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 healthcare, 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 being brought to 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

Electricity Coverage Rising in Africa
It is hard to imagine life without electricity. In the American standard of living, electricity pervades every aspect of a person’s life, from food storage to entertainment and everything in between. In Africa, however, only 30 percent of people have access to electricity.

Power Africa

Power Africa is a USAID agency that aims to provide people in Africa with access to electricity. They plan to make 60 new electricity connections and generate 30,000 more megawatts (MW) of electricity across the continent by 2030. The goal is to do this by harnessing the sun, wind, lake water, and natural gas to power rural areas that do not have access to electricity.

Power Africa tracks its progress on various projects by tracking business transactions with African power companies. For example, in 2016, they made a deal with the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Department of State to provide $30 million worth of financing of 32 renewable energy projects in 10 countries in Africa. With Power Africa’s help, 90 business transactions have been completed and 25 of Africa’s 55 countries now have access to some form of electricity. Examples from Power Africa actions are described in a text below.

Mali

Although the demand for electricity in Mali is currently greater than the supply, that does not mean that there is no supply at all. Electricity in Mali currently comes from mostly hydraulic and thermal energy (55 and 44 percent, respectively). Power Africa plans to help Mali produce an additional 80 MW of hydroelectric energy, more than 300 MW from biomass, and unlimited MW from the sun.

Electricity usage has already gone up in Mali. Major mining companies increased their energy consumption by 136 MW (189 percent) between 2008 and 2011. In 2016, the government passed a law mandating partnerships between public and private electric companies in order to increase MW production. The ultimate goal is to make an additional 20,000 MW of energy and distribute it to 50 million people by 2020.

Namibia

Currently, Namibia gets most of its electricity from power grids in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other nearby countries. However, electricity demand in these countries is way higher than supply, forcing Namibia to find ways to generate its own electricity. As of 2008, Namibia can only generate 393 MW from 3 stations, while the national demand is 533 MW.

One of these stations, the Ruacana power station, is dependent on the flow of water from the Kunene River, which flows out of Angola. Another station, the coal-run Eck power station, is costly to operate and maintain. Eck, along with the oil-based Paratus power station, is only used for short-term peaks in electricity demand.

For the time being, Namibia still needs to have its electricity needs met by its neighbors. The Caprivi link is a transmission line that connects Namibia’s power grid to those in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This provides the country with an additional 600 MW, fulfilling Namibia’s electricity needs. In 2007, Namibia consumed 3.6 TWh of electricity.

Tanzania

Most of Tanzania’s electricity (90 percent) comes from biomass. This has resulted in mass deforestation and, thus, is far from ideal for the ecosystem. Only 18.4 percent of Tanzanian citizens have access to electricity in any form. Currently, the country is financially incapable of extending the power grid into all rural areas.

In 1975, the government founded the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO). TANESCO has a nationwide monopoly on electricity production and distribution. However, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM) is trying to end this monopoly by allowing companies to get licenses to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. The Rural Energy Agency (REA) is slowly getting electricity into rural areas. With these services, the government aims to make electricity available to everyone in Tanzania, and one can see electricity coverage rising from their efforts.

Conclusion

In the modern day, electricity seems like a basic ingredient for life that it seems like everyone should have it. The people in Power Africa agree and we can see electricity coverage rising in Africa as a result of their efforts. Mali is making more energy from more sources than ever, Namibia is starting to make its own electricity, and Tanzania is spreading electricity out as far as it can. Africa is becoming more and more electrified, reaching the ultimate goal- provide access to electricity for everyone on the continent.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in NamibiaNamibia is a large, sparsely populated country on the south-west coast of Africa. It has enjoyed relative stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a struggle with the South African government. Unfortunately, the water quality in Namibia has been an issue for some time, with many avoiding the usage of tap water for drinking purposes and opting for bottled water instead.

In some cities, tap water is contaminated; in others, it may be safe to drink. In cities such as Keetmanshoop and Tsumeb, it is said that all water is considered contaminated and that it is recommended to bring all tap water to a rolling boil if you wish to drink, brush your teeth or make ice cubes with it. Otherwise, it is recommended to buy capped bottled water from reputable sellers.

In cities like Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek, the water is considered as ‘may be safe to drink’ because the water is chlorinated. This means that locals can drink water from the tap without issue. Despite this, many still choose to avoid the water due to instances of some small strains of local E. coli being present in the water. This bacteria can cause diarrhea to new visitors.

As a result of water contamination, retail chains in Namibia, such as Pick ‘n Pay, Spar and Fruit and Veg, to make significant profits selling bottled water to consumers hesitant to drink the tap water.

However, in some shops, like the Pick n’ Play in Windhoek, tap water is labeled as ‘mineral water’ and sold to the consumers unknowingly. There are very little safety measures in place to protect the consumers from being misled by the retail shops that sell bottled water in Namibia.

While explaining the water quality in Namibia and how tap water is treated in cities, Maximilian Herzog of Omaruru Beverages, a leading bottled water company in the local market, said, “nobody controls water quality at the point of use – the tap at home.” This means that from the treatment point, water can flow kilometers through unclean and old pipelines. Water remains one of the most difficult products to bottle and transport through pipelines due to accidental contamination issues. Furthermore, high chlorine levels and unbalanced mineral contents in tap water lead to unpleasant tastes.

Herzog maintains that it is important that the consumer is clearly informed with appropriate labeling and packaging on what they intend to buy, whether it be mineral water or purified water.

In order for this issue to be addressed, it is imperative for the National Standards Institute (NSI) to create regulations for bottled water sales. This will ensure that consumers are no longer misled or in danger of drinking contaminated tap water. Until then, be aware of the water quality in Namibia.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in NamibiaAs the thirty-fourth largest country in the world, Namibia is home just 2.4 million people. While there was an 11 percent decline in poverty from 2001 to 2011, almost 600,000 people were still living in poverty. According to data from 2015, about 26.9 percent of the total population lived in poverty and 16.9 percent had HIV/AIDS. While poverty is caused by a variety of factors, here are three of the causes of poverty in Namibia.

  1. Agricultural and environmental factors
    Seventy percent of the population depends on agriculture. The country has fourteen regions, with many rural, agricultural regions. The agricultural regions do not fare well and the people there have had to deal with severe droughts as it is very arid. At these times, people cannot grow the food that they need to sell and to eat. Hunger and poverty are connected in this specific instance, showing that other issues are byproducts of poverty.In 2008, SKILLSHARE International began working with local organizations to create the Sustainable Livelihoods Project for Rural Communities in Namibia. Reports show that in order to reduce poverty, the country must understand subsistence farming. Some experts see this as the key to finding a way to reduce poverty because it affects so many lives in urban and rural areas.
  2. Socioeconomic factors
    The gap between the rich and the poor is seen through the separation of the northern and southern regions of Namibia. Large amounts of wealth are concentrated in the hands of the few. The Gini coefficient for Namibia, which measures inequality, shows that inequality is still pretty high at 0.6 (perfect equality is 0).Seventy percent of personal income taxes come from the top 10 percent of the population. This small group at the top has a lot more opportunity than those at the bottom who struggle to farm the arid land. There is a divide between the rural and urban areas. A large amount of the population lives in rural areas, while the few in the urban areas have more opportunities for jobs and economic success.Another socioeconomic factor is that the poor have little access to public services, which is something on which the Namibian government is starting to focus more. With more access to education and sanitation, the poor will be better off.To fight the causes of poverty in Namibia, the government started to change its fiscal policies. According to the World Bank, the fiscal policies adopted by Namibia have been successful thus far in reducing poverty.The World Bank described the policy as “a progressive social benefits and tax system,” which basically means that it creates higher taxes for the rich in order to provide the poor with more social benefits. This money can be used for healthcare, education, and for transfers, which give the poor money to use for living. The next step for the fiscal policies is to promote job creation to help the poor find employment.
  3. Health factors
    Namibia’s maternal mortality is 200 deaths per 100,000 births, and its neonatal mortality is 19 deaths per 1,000 births. Nonprofit organizations like Synergy work on reducing maternal and infant mortality. They also want to increase youth employment and assist agricultural growth in Namibia.

Over the past twenty years, poverty is in decline in the country of Namibia. But, the situation is far from perfect and there remain many causes of poverty in Namibia. Through the continued work of the government and effective aid organizations, more of the vulnerable communities in Namibia will be able to find a path to prosperity.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Namibia

Located in Southwestern Africa, adjacent to Botswana, Zambia, Angola and South Africa, the Republic of Namibia is an arid and sparsely-populated nation of 2 million people. The country faces one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world of approximately 13 percent, a chronic malnourishment rate of 20 percent and fluctuating levels of water supply.

Needless to say, the situation begs the question of how to help people in Namibia.

Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious, many charities based in Namibia work to improve the situation of the country’s population. For example, Books for Africa is a non-profit that provides books and educational materials to 48 countries across the continent. “Books for Africa is a simple idea, but its impact is transformative. For us, literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope.” says former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Another method useful in answering the question of how to help people in Namibia is to support DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) Namibia, a not-for-profit organization based in Namibia that empowers local communities in a variety of ways. Some of DAPP’s initiatives include agricultural training networks and camps, creating programs responsible for combatting HIV/AIDS and increasing the availability of contraceptives across the nation. As an organization based in Namibia, DAPP is in a unique position to understand, identify and tackle national issues on a first-hand basis.

Finally, wildlife conservation is a key factor in understanding how to help people in Namibia. Preserving the country’s wildlife is indispensable to maintaining a steady tourism industry as many people come to the country to visit its wildlife and safari parks. Naankuse is a nonprofit based in Namibia that works to preserve the country’s rich and colorful variety of not only wildlife but indigenous cultures and people as well. Naankuse specifically focuses on three key areas: wildlife conservation, the preservation of national landscapes and support of rural communities. Supporting Naankuse will enable the country to protect its most valuable assets to one of the economy’s most valuable industries.

These are just a few examples of ways to get involved in helping to boost development and reduce poverty in Namibia.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

Why Namibia Is PoorNamibia is a country located in the southwestern part of Africa, just north of South Africa, and has one of the largest income gaps between the rich and the poor in the world.

There are a few reasons why Namibia is poor. Many of the causes stem from the social and economic imbalances of the apartheid system that was introduced in 1964 under South African rule. This resulted in a deep divide in Namibian society. Much of the black African population was denied proper access to basic productive resources and infrastructure, while white settlers had exclusive access to vast areas of land as well as a tremendous amount of support from the government for their farming.

Some of the poorest people are located in the northern regions of Namibia. The majority of its indigenous population is located in the north, and many of the poorest households are those headed by women. This amounts to around 43 percent of all the households located in rural areas, which are the most likely to be dependent on farming.

These families’ dependency on farming is problematic due to a veterinary cordon fence that runs east to west across the country south of the Angola border, used to block the southern movement of livestock diseases. However, this fence also divides the poorer north, where their primary source of income comes from farming, from the richer south with its commercial ranchers.

Severely poor people in Namibia are those who are not able to spend at least N$389.30 per month on necessities to live, according to the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure. If they cannot spend more than N$520.80 per month, they are just considered poor. The average life expectancy in the country is just 62 years, and is even lower in marginalized communities.

The government of the country has been committed to solving the problems of Namibia’s poverty and large income gap. They have adopted quite a few policies since their independence and have noticed how poverty has endangered the social harmony of their country. A few plans for addressing these issues include Vision 2030 as well as other national development plans.

Hopefully, in the coming years, the people of Namibia will continue to make strides in combating the reasons why Namibia is poor and will be able to close the income gap.

Sara Venusti

Photo: Unsplash

Social Media and Poverty ReductionThe U.N. first asked “how can the international community best harness the power of media…to educate and transform?” in a 2017 conference. Although this requires a complicated answer, social media and poverty reduction can be connected by harnessing the power of information to foster development in a technologically advancing world.

The link is clear: the U.N. recognizes that there are many “opportunities for the media to play a strategic role for eradicating poverty.” This rests on the media’s ability to inform the public about poverty, in many cases by disseminating information through the voices of who have truly experienced it. This provides “an inclusive platform and an open forum to share the views and concerns of people living in vulnerable situations.”

 

Media and Poverty Reduction: Syrian Civil War

 

But what does this look like firsthand? When a video of a young Syrian boy named Omran Daqneesh covered in rubble surfaced in 2016, millions of people disseminated the video through their social media channels hours after its publication. The New York Times called the video “an image of civil war,” as for many it humanized the violent events taking place far from home.

Sharing these shocking images can spur quick action. A different image, that of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned while leaving Syria for Greece, gained similar attention. Sharing it via social media had real outcomes: MercyCorps garnered $2.3 million for Syrian refugees in one month, compared to the $4.5 million raised in four years before.

The information-sharing that took place with these images spurred discussions about poverty and war on social media. In many cases, the power in information-sharing means that “the media can play a major role in developing public understanding of economic, social, and environmental issues: the three pillars of sustainable development,” according to the U.N.

 

Governments Utilize Connection Between Media and Poverty Reduction

 

Many organizations and governments are harnessing the power in social media and poverty reduction. Rwandan health minister Agnes Binagwaho provides an example with #Ministermondays. Every other Monday, Binagwaho opens a discussion via Twitter for people to voice their concerns about health in the country. Listening to real voices, she is able to craft policies using the experiences she absorbs through social media.

Others are doing similar work. An online social media platform called Digital Green provides farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia a network to discuss best practices for farming. Similarly, the World Bank Finances app ensures that sustainable development initiatives put funding into the correct hands, preventing fraud via social media.

Unlike other media sources, social media gives a voice to those who have lived in poverty by creating public platforms to spread experience. In this way, the media “affords individuals and communities the possibility to become active in the development process” by using social media platforms as safe spaces for discussion, according to the University of Namibia. Over time, this is generating “long-term suitability and sustainability” for poverty reduction.

Social media and poverty reduction works for other forms of development. Success for the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals largely rests on the power of the media, according to the U.N., based on its ability to instigate change with credible information sharing. And media hides other tools for poverty eradication; the University of Namibia explains that it also “creates a platform for non-violent discussion and issue resolution” to prevent conflict.

Social media and poverty reduction can be linked through holding guilty parties accountable for their actions. An established social media source known as I Paid a Bribe is doing just this; it creates a space to safely expose corruption in developing countries by text or email. Stories are shared without fear of retaliation, exposing illegal actions and fighting corruption.

 

Media and Poverty Reduction: Shortcomings

 

Even so, media does not always work in favor of poverty reduction; many argue that poverty is often given little coverage time via traditional media sources. For example, a study of three prominent U.S. nightly news sources found that in 14 months, an average of only 2.7 seconds in every 22-minute program mentioned poverty. And not all people are able to access social media channels; ending the digital divide that leaves four billion people without internet can harness the power of social media to share stories for reducing poverty.

In some cases, “the knowledge and experiences of people living in poverty are often undervalued” in the media, and “solutions to their own problems are ignored.” This can improperly portray real world experiences. Giving little recognition to those who have lived in poverty, according to the U.N., ultimately plays a role in distorting public perception and negatively influencing policies about poverty reduction.

Despite barriers, the U.N. explains that “the time has come for all policy actors to recognize and support the vital contribution of the media” in reducing poverty. Developing the tools that social media provides to reduce poverty, when done effectively, is gaining traction for development today.

And although Omran Daqneesh’s video alone can not end a civil war, his impact is igniting progress for sustainable development. In a world like today, change stems from diverse voices, making way for progress that was impossible only decades ago.

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr