Backbenchers to assess poverty eradication projects- Mensah-Williams

24 Jun 2018 17:30pm

National Council chairperson, Margaret Mensah-Williams has indicated that the National Council Standing Committee on Women Caucus, together with the Gender, Youth and Information Technology Committee will conduct an assessment of government’s poverty eradication programmes in the regions.

She said members of parliament in the National Council, as elected representatives of the people, are highly concerned by the significant levels of poverty affecting people.

“The most vulnerable segments of the population are the most poverty stricken as most are helpless; among these are persons living with disabilities, orphans, street children, victims of human trafficking as well as victims of gender-based violence, also the unemployed, marginalized communities and those who can’t work due to living with chronic health conditions,” she said.

The National Council has in the meantime passed the Constituency Development Fund Bill in 2016 and referred it to the National Assembly and Mensah-Williams said it will go a long way in addressing poverty at the constituency level by funding community-based projects in the regions.

Meanwhile, a latest Afrobarometer report said government received a failing grade on the provision of serviced land and housing in urban areas which is part of the poverty eradication drive.

It also says large majorities of Namibia’s rural residents, and substantial proportions of urban residents, do not have access to the infrastructure needed to receive services. 

However, the report noted that a majority (57%) of respondents in its survey say the government is performing “fairly well” or “very well” in providing water/sanitation services, even though most rural residents lack access to infrastructure for these services.

Another report titled, Three Years of Geingob released this year said Geingob’s office coincided with the worst economic climate in many years which has come in time to hamstring efforts to combat poverty. 

This has not, however, impeded the administration to score considerable points.

“The Geingob administration’s most prominent initiatives were food banks and an increase in the old age pension, from N$600 a month before his presidency to N$1200 in 2017. The increase in grants will likely be remembered as one of Geingob’s most effective anti-poverty measures.”

“While grants in Namibia are somewhat inefficient in terms of their redistributive effects, they have a wide impact. 17 percent of Namibians receive the old-age pension – and its reach is broad as many recipients of old-age grants use their grants to take care of other family members,” says the report. 

Inspite of successes which saw 95 000 individuals benefiting, Max Weylandt of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the administration soon struck 7 000 households off the list after allegations that households earning above the threshold of N$400/month had been able to register.