09 Jun 2014 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 09 JUN (NAMPA) - The Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) plans to implement social action research on poverty, vulnerability and food insecurity by using the urban and rural basic needs basket (BNB).
At the opening of a high-level two-day BNB stakeholder workshop on Monday, LaRRi Director Dr Hilma Shindondola-Mote said the institute has a hunch that food is extremely expensive in Namibia, and especially in the capital.
But, we have no reliable evidence to back up our claims. What we want to do with this project is to confirm or contradict our hypothesis. We are concerned about the people at the lowest ladder in terms of incomes, she stressed.
According to Shindondola-Mote, many Namibians are not able to achieve their full potential due to poverty, unemployment, unequal access to opportunities and discrimination on various levels, such as gender and age.
Malnutrition and high maternal mortality rates are further examples of social problems, as well as sub-standard housing, employment discrimination as well as gender-based violence and abuse.
Shindondola-Mote said the minimum standard of living should be regularly kept in check in Namibia. These may be costs associated with food, energy, housing, utilities, education, health, transport and communications.
The issue is how best to measure these costs, and ensure that the information is readily available to ordinary people, whenever it's most needed.
At the same occasion, the Special Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Vicki ya Toivo emphasised that Namibia has a legal framework to alleviate poverty.
The country is also a signatory to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which has a number of guidelines on the implementation of national social protection floors.
The social protection floor is a global, social policy approach promoting integrated strategies for ensuring access to essential social services and income security for all.
Ya Toivo then raised the concern that 30 per cent of Namibias children under the age of five years are chronically-malnourished.
Their future is threatened because they cannot contribute to the development of the nation, she cautioned.
Workshop facilitator and Research Programme Officer for the Centre of Social Concern in Malawi, Alex Nkosi said the goal of the BNB is to unpack the concepts of poverty and by extension inequality.
BNB can be used as a pro-poor advocacy tool. Some trade unions have brought the monthly food basket into their wage negotiations in arguing for increases to meet basic needs. It is a tool which receives wide attention, and stirs a lot of discussion, he added.
The BNB survey will be conducted on a monthly basis.
It will provide data on the prices of basic food and non-food items. It is expected that the outcome will inform measures to improve the income of workers and social protection programmes in line with the costs of basic goods and services.
A pilot survey will commence immediately after the workshop in July this year.
The event ends on Tuesday.