The Kavango region, which has since been divided into two regions, is the poorest region in the country with a poverty head-count of 53.2% which is 21% of the 568 418 estimated poor people, according to the Namibia Planning Commission.
While the Kavango region has more than half of its population classified as poor, it is followed by Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions, which have 15% and 14% (respectively) of their populous classified as poor.
According to the Poverty Mapping Report launched last week by the National Planning Commission (NPC), the poorest regions in the country are the rural northern regions of Kavango, Oshikoto, Zambezi, Kunene and Ohangwena with more than one third of the population in these regions being poor.
However, the Omusati region fell out of the top five highest poverty head-count rate regions while as it was replaced by Zambezi.
During the 2001 to 2011 period, the Omusati region experienced a reduction of 22% in the incidence of poverty, from a high of 51% in 2001 to a low of 29% in 2011.
Meanwhile, in 2001 the Ohangwena region recorded a reduction in the poverty head-count rate of 28% points, which was attributed to increased economic activity in that region, simulated by public and private investments which boosted the regional economy.
Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of the NPC, Tom Alweendo, said the three rural regions of Kavango, Ohangwena and Oshikoto account for half of the total number of people living in Namibia where the main source of income is derived from subsistence farming.
Alweendo said the poverty map report gives the level of poverty in the country by linking poverty to particular areas up to constituency level.
“This report validates findings from other studies that poverty levels in Namibia have been declining. Using two data points of the population censuses of 2001 and 2011, poverty has declined by 11% over that period on a national level and in all regions, except the Zambezi and Khomas regions,” said Alweendo.
In the 15 of the country’s poorest constituencies, more than half of the population is poor, while Epupa is the poorest constituency with 69.2% of the population living below the poverty line.
The report noted, in part, that Namibia registered a general decline in the incidence of poverty of the 11% points over the 2001 and 2011 period with the national incidence of poverty declining from 37.9% to 26.9% over this period.
“This indicates a total number of 125 277 fewer people living in poverty at the end of this period of 10 years than would have been the case if the poverty rate had remained unchanged,” noted the report in part.
In addition, the major declines were registered in the northern regions of Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene and Oshikoto and the Eastern region of Omaheke.
However, the Zambezi and Khomas registered increases of 7.2% points and 1.2% points respectively.
The report added in part that out of the 13 regions, seven regions namely Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto, Omusati, Ohangwena, Kunene, Zambezi, and Kavango had poverty incidences that were above the national rate of 26.9%.
In both 2011 and 2001, the Ohangwena, Kunene, Zambezi, Oshikoto and Kavango regions had more than one third of their population regarded as poor.
“Poverty in Namibia still bears a distinct rural face with the poorest regions being those in which the majority of the population lives in rural areas. The regions with the lowest incidences of poverty (Khomas and Erongo) have largely urban populations and are the economic hubs of the country, with relatively more employment opportunities,” said the report in part.
As in the Zambezi region, the poverty incidence in Khomas increased between 2001 and 2011 but the region still has the lowest incidences of poverty with only 5% of its population living below the poverty line.
“Erongo, Karas, Hardap and Oshana also reported low levels of poverty. Khomas region is home to Windhoek, the political and economic capital of the country. Erongo region not only has most of the existing mines but also borders the Atlantic Ocean which produces fish, a major export commodity for Namibia,” noted the report in part.