Namibian poverty declining – but it varies between geographic areas

The Namibian National Planning Commission recently released its report on Namibian Poverty Mapping. This report confirms that Namibian poverty declined considerably  between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, but also adds detailed information about how different geographic areas were affected. Although poverty (at the upper-bound poverty line) had declined by 11.0 percentage points for Namibia as a whole (from 37.9 to 27.9%), in the Khomas region around Windhoek it actually slightly increased from a very low 3.4% to a still low 4.6% – not because the region had stagnated, but because rapid migration to the capital had even outstripped the region’s strong economic progress (the population of Khomas rose by 36% in a decade). Poverty increased by about 7 percentage points in Zambezi (formerly Caprivi), but declined strongly in four populous and poor north-western regions (Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikotu and Kunene, and in Omaheke in the east.) The report presents poverty estimates at two poverty lines at a regional and even constituency level, where it becomes even clearer that not everyone benefited equally from the rising economic prosperity.

The estimates presented in the report were derived using a technique called ‘poverty mapping’, that combines more detailed information from surveys on income or consumption with the greater detail at the small area level that censuses offer. Models of the correlates of poverty in the surveys are applied to the censuses, with appropriate adjustment for the errors terms (deviations from the models). Three ReSEP researchers, Cobus Burger, Thomas Ferreira and Servaas van der Berg, worked closely with the Namibian Planning Commission to generate these estimates.