Namibia embarks on poverty alleviation among rural communities
Windhoek – Namibian Cabinet has resolved to further pursue relations with the top leadership of the United Nations that would see the country benefiting in relevant projects, especially the ones that deals with the improvement the living standards of rural communities. Cabinet’s decision, contained in the latest cabinet releases, follows on the heels of a series of meetings the country’s Prime Minister Nahas Angula recently conducted with amongst others; the UN’s Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Asha Rose Migiro, the UNDP Administrator Helen Clarke and the UN’s Under-Secretary General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Prominent on the Prime Minister’s agenda while in New York were plans to establish a Millennium Village for Namibia – a project that seeks to provide useful lessons on rural development by offering a bold, innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Namibian Prime Minister visited the Earth Institute at the Columbia University where he had discussions with Prof. Jeffry Sachs, the Advisor of the UN Secretary General on the Millennium Development Goals. Prof Sachs is also the founder of the Millennium Village Project, and would soon be invited to Namibia to assist with the establishment of the concept of a Millennium Village in Namibia. The UN reports that Africa has the greatest proportion of people living in extreme poverty more than 40 percent or roughly 300 million people living on less than $1 a day. The Millennium Villages are however proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability by 2015. The government has made good progress in addressing structural problems such as gender parity and access to basic education, yet the situation of imbalance persists. Although a tiny proportion of the population enjoys considerable wealth, overall poverty rates are high, reveals latest government statistics. The rural poor are typically undereducated, with limited access to health care, adequate sanitation and gas and electricity supplies. Food shortages are a major problem during years of drought, and nutritional intake is consistently poor. Namibia is unusual in the region in that rural people are less dependent on agriculture than their counterparts in other countries. Sources such as pensions and remittances provide important additional income for many subsistence farmers. While in New York, the Namibian Prime Minister also addressed a round-table discussion on Nutrition and Children at the Synergos Institute, as well as at the Council on Foreign Relations on Namibia at Twenty Years: Challenges and Opportunities., as part of the David Rockefeller lecturer series. Cabinet also directed that the Ministry of Veterans affairs liaise with the United Nations agency, UNDP, on the reintegration of former veterans and children of the liberation struggle.