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Children face severe poverty

These happy juveniles at a Windhoek crèche are some of the fortunate children who benefit from basic services such as education, clothing and shelter (Photograph by Hilma Hashange).

These happy juveniles at a Windhoek crèche are some of the fortunate children who benefit from basic services such as education, clothing and shelter (Photograph by Hilma Hashange).

It is estimated that while 15.3% of the whole population is in severe poverty, 18.3% of Namibian children suffers severe poverty and 34% of all children find themselves below the upper poverty line.
This is according to a child-centered poverty analysis of the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES 2009/2010) released by the Namibia Statistics Agency. Although poverty is said to be more than simply the lack of sufficient money, the report found it useful to measure such poverty in money terms and therefore the use of one or more poverty lines is required to measure poverty.
In Namibia, the severe poverty line is measured as being an income of N$3330.48 per year or less per adult equivalent, based on the cost of meeting food as well as some non-food needs. The upper poverty line is measured as an income of N$4535.52 per year per adult equivalent.
The report states that households fall into poverty if their income is too small to care for everybody in the household or if one or more adults have to stay home to care for children, elderly or other family members. The report defines children as those under the age of 16 and uses the upper poverty line to determine the different poverty lines per region and age.
Children up to five years are considered to require only half as much as adults in terms of consumption needs and children 6 to 15 only three-quarters as much. This means, according to the report, that a household consisting of six adult members would have been considered poor if its consumption fell below about N$27,210 per year while a household containing two adults, two young children below six and two other children below 16 would not have been considered poor unless their consumption was below N$20,410.
The report found that a large majority of children find themselves in households lacking durable goods such as television, stove and cars but have radio’s and cell phones. Only 32.3% of poor children are in households that do not have a telephone or cell phones; however 13.7% of children living in poor households lack any of the durable goods.
Although there has been some limited improvement since the last survey (2003/2004), deprived children lacking access to clean water, improved sanitation, electricity and safe heating, are still widespread. As many as 80.7% of poor children are in households that do not have access to an improved source of drinking water, 88.7% have no access to improved sanitation, 87.6% have no electricity even for lighting purposes and 76.6% use wood, coal or dung for heating.
The report also touches on the role social grants play as a means of providing social protection against poverty and vulnerability. Namibia is one of the few countries in Africa that has a well-established and functioning social grant system, although the quantity of such grants is still relatively low. Statistics found that 18.2% of all children and 22.1% of poor children are in households where there is a person receiving a pension whilst child maintenance and foster care grants amounts to 10.5% of poor children. Administration data states that 110,639 people received maintenance and foster care grants in December 2009, which is N$2400 per year for one eligible child. The number has however since increased. Moreover, the old age pension is set to increase to N$600 from the current N$550.

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