Namibia: 51,3 Percent of Children in Namibia Are Poor

AT least 45 000 children were pushed into poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic, making children in Namibia the poorest demographic group in the country.

This means more than half of the children in the country are poor, while 43,3% of Namibia’s total population live in poverty.

According to the latest country report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the lockdown measures imposed during the pandemic have pushed more children deeper into poverty.

“The United Nations (UN) Namibia socio-economic impact analysis of Covid-19 [for] 2020 estimates that the pandemic has pushed more than 105 000 people into poverty,” the report reads.

Meanwhile, the World Bank reckons 200 000 more Namibians were pushed into poverty during the first year of the pandemic.

This is despite the government’s social grant scheme which caters for roughly 773 463 people under the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.

Some 339 735 vulnerable children in the country are currently receiving social grants.

Another UN agency says more than half of Namibia’s population has experienced moderate or severe food insecurity over the last two years, while 1,4 million people were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2020.

The report further states that adolescent girls and young women still account for a disproportionate number of new HIV infections due to overlapping factors such as sexual and gender-based violence, multiple sexual partners, and early sexual debut.

“These factors together with increased teenage pregnancies have been exacerbated since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Unicef states.

In addition to the pandemic, 52 761 Namibian households have lost their livelihoods as a result of drought, floods, and locust infestations, of which 88% are in the Kunene region.

This is exacerbated by the high youth unemployment the country is currently experiencing.

In the World Bank’s latest country report, Namibia’s poverty is labelled as relatively high, with lagging human capital and poor access to basic services as interrelated problems.

“Namibia’s poverty rapidly declined from 1993/94 to 2015/16, but it remains high considering the country’s level of development. Despite recent progress, Namibia ranked 117th among 157 countries on the human capital index,” the report says.

It says the duality of the labour market, combined with slow job creation and low primary-sector productivity results in very high unemployment.

The World Bank cautioned that progress on structural reforms would be required to raise Namibia’s growth potential.


Community activist Rinaani Musutua says this situation is not new to Namibia.

She says Namibia has for years been plagued by unemployment, poverty and inequality even during economic growth experienced between 2001 to 2010.

“Yes, it’s true that the pandemic has pushed more people into poverty, but the problem became worse due to the government’s inability to tackle the problems,” she says.

Musutua says this paints a bleak picture for Namibian families, especially children.

“… to tackle poverty, especially child poverty, the government must invest in social protection programmes, such as the basic income grant (BIG), which goes directly to families, making it possible for them to at least afford basic food,” she says.

Economist Salomo Hei says nearly half of all people in the world today are under the age of 25.

Namibia’s demographic is no different.

He says about 85% of the world’s youth live in poor countries.

“There is hope for the country given that we exploit the youth dividend.

“Partnerships between adults and the youth can lead to success where programmes designed by adults for the youth have failed,” he says.