Government has a lot to do to address inequality: LaRRI

11 Dec 2015 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 10 DEC (NAMPA) – The Namibian Government still has a lot to do to address the inequalities and plight of the poor in rural and urban areas, according to a pilot study conducted by the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI).
The study titled ‘The cost of basic needs in Namibia's low income Urban Households investigated the incidence of poverty and the cost of living among low-income households.
LaRRI's Director, Michael Uusiku Akuupa at the launch of the report here on Tuesday said the study has concluded that despite various efforts by the State to fight poverty, Government still has a lot to do.
“A number of strategies, programmes and policies have been implemented as part of efforts in the fight against poverty, which resulted in the decrease in the incidence of poverty,” said Akuupa, adding that by using the conventional measures of poverty, Namibia's poverty levels have slightly declined.
In this pilot study, a total of 20 households were studied in Windhoek areas such as Katutura Central, Wanaheda, Okahandja Park and Shandumbala.
The study was conducted using the Basic Needs Basket (BNB); a system that not only looks at expenditure but also establishes what an average household in a given socio-economic circumstance ought to consume both in terms of quantity and quality.
According to the survey, the households that were studied had a combined average household income of N.dollars 4 649.00 per month, where noticeable income disparities where observed.
The study established that households in Katutura Central and Shandumbala have higher incomes than the ones in Wanaheda and Okahandja Park. In addition, household expenditure indicated a total of N.dollars 2 784.17 per month, which is seemingly below the average household income.
In terms of expenditure when separated into components, households spend more than half of their income on items such as housing, transport, water and electricity, followed by food and hygiene items.
The interviewed respondents in the study were mostly breadwinners in all the households and it was revealed that 53 per cent of breadwinners earn as little as N.dollars 1 000 per month.
Only one per cent, about 7 out of the breadwinners interviewed earns more than N.dollars 10 000.00 per month.
In addition, the report discovered that 60 per cent of the respondents put a side part of their salary into saving schemes.
The report also explored some of the strategies used by households to cope with the state of affairs such as sending their children to rural areas to live with their grandparents and relatives, using the cheapest form of transport such as walking and taxis and borrowing from relatives among others.
Akuupa said the BNB goes beyond food by considering other non-food essentials which ordinary people should not live without, which includes access to clean water and energy, secure and reliable transport, toiletries, basic household cleaning materials.
However, this approach distinguishes the BNB from other welfare poverty approaches that make the study more suitable for developing countries where a lot of households struggle to meet their basic needs.
According to the survey, some recommendations were made on poverty studies to incorporate the BNB methods particularly in areas with high levels of poverty as the information collected will enable Government to develop appropriate strategies to address poverty.
And although growing food might be a challenge due to poor rainfall in the country, the study recommends that there is a need for Namibia to encourage people to grow their own food, especially vegetables.
By growing their own food, this will reduce the cost of the basket and enhance the ability of low-income households’ access to nutritional food.
In its conclusion, the study found that BNB does not only quantify and analyse what people consume but goes beyond to recommend what people should ideally have such as access to decent jobs and a decent income.