Namibia has committed itself to eradicating poverty by 2025. A resolution to this effect was taken at the just ended National Conference on Wealth Redistribution and Poverty Eradication.
Effectively this target would be achieved under President Hage Geingob’s ten year tenure in office, if he is voted into office for a second term.
The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, which organised and hosted the conference was tasked to implement appropriate programmes to ensure that Namibia beats by five years the global deadline for poverty eradication (2030), as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The conference was officially opened by President Geingob, who reiterated his resolve to fight poverty and hunger in Namibia. He called on all institutions of government and the private sector to work together in the fight against poverty, while emphasising the coordinating function of the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
Poverty eradication permanent secretary I-Ben Nashandi said the meeting appreciated the proposed activities of the ministry, with regard to the functioning of the proposed food banks, the consideration of safety nets for vulnerable persons, and the abolition of the student loan system at tertiary institutions, as concrete measures to address poverty.
Nashandi said the conference also supported a number of proposed measures, consolidated under four main themes, namely social safety nets, deprivation from basic services, training and skills development, employment creation through SMEs and community development activities, as additional interventions.
The meeting also reiterated the need to pursue sustainable interventions and in this context urged the ministry to immediately finalise the draft policy framework on wealth redistribution and poverty eradication, which pertains – although not exclusively – to the establishment and functioning of food banks, sustainable social safety nets targeting vulnerable persons, as well as multi-sectoral coordination, review, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
Other areas that received support from the conference include the single register systems that contribute to inclusiveness, efficiency and cost effectiveness of various social programmes within government.
The conference, he said also recommended that appropriate empowerment programmes for the most vulnerable members of society be designed, and to ensure support and mentoring programmes are in place.
"The meeting further reiterated that sustainable empowerment programmes to redistribute wealth through ownership of resources and entities should be considered as long-term solutions to poverty eradication,” he noted. Additionally, he said the conference also underscored the importance and of skills development to long-term poverty eradication and called for the consideration of vocational training and skills development centres in all regions, taking into account the regions’ potential and endowment.
Moreover, the conference reiterated that investment in the agricultural sector has great potential to create sustainable jobs, which provide a lasting solution to poverty. In this vein, the conference emphasised the importance of agricultural activities to support the food banks and agricultural hubs.
Nashandi said the conference also supported the call for the allocation of agricultural land to unemployed youth for productive agriculture, as well as access to clean water by all communities.
The conference, he said, agreed that deprivation of communities from basic services fuels poverty. He called on all government institutions to implement the programmes, to ensure that services are provided to people in remote areas, and that professionalism in the delivery of services be upheld.
The delegates also urged the authorities to revisit liquor licensing regulations, as the abuse of alcohol is on rise, given that it is sold in residential areas at prolonged hours and is leading to the abuse of incomes by households. Most significanctly, the conference called for a removal of shebeens from residential areas, due the negative impact of rampant criminality and bad morality on citizens, especially children and the youth.