THE Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) has reported that the country has made significant strides in the eradication of poverty, with the population below the poverty line for severe poverty halved from 21.9% to 10.7%.
This was said by Statistician General, Alex Shimuafeni, who was speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Baseline Report for Namibia which gives figures on the starting condition and recent trends of the country in its effort to achieve the targets and goals of Agenda 2030.
Shimuafeni noted that while major improvements are visible in the fight to end poverty in the country, a decline in economic growth after 2016 threatens the continuation of this trend.
The overall picture in the country, however, looks promising in ensuring that extreme poverty is brought down to almost zero in the next decade until 2030, even taking into account that most vulnerable people are harder to reach.
“Currently, the main setback threatening other development areas is the overall economic situation in the country. After steady growth of 3 to 4% between 2010 and 2015, the country finds itself in an economic recession in the last two years. This general economic downturn is expected to trickle down to many other SDGs indicators of the Agenda 2030,” Shimuafeni explained.
He further explained that unfortunately, as many of these indicators do not have updated measurements since 2015, the full extent of this expected impact cannot yet be assessed.
The 2019 SDG report further highlights that the spatial distribution of people living below the food poverty line is similar to the national poverty line distributions. The spread is dramatic with almost no poverty in Erongo (0.4 %) but 22.9% of the population in Kavango East living below the Food poverty line.
From the northern regions, Oshana stands out with a small number of only 0.9%.
With regard to how Namibia has fared in the elimination of epidemics and disease, Shimuafeni said after an impressive decrease between 2000 and 2010, the incidence of malaria increased again from only 2.5 to 29.2 per 1000 people affected persons.
Similarly, the number of persons requiring treatment and care for one of the neglected tropical diseases increased by around 100 000 persons since 2013.
“Even though the population grew in the same period and the proportion of people affected is not increasing to the same extent, in a small country such as Namibia, 100 000 more affected persons is a major burden for its health system and economy,” Shimuafeni lamented.
The country is, however, faring better than its neighbouring countries, with the total new HIV infection rate per 1000 uninfected adults reducing to a third, from 13.9% in 2004 to only 4% in 2017.
“Similar to the fight against extreme poverty, it is possible that a continuation in this effort can lead to zero new infections in the country by 2030. In parallel, in the same period Tuberculosis incidence was halved from 935 to 446 out of 100 000 persons,” Shimuafeni concluded.