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Opinion - Poverty, unemployment and crime: A synopsis

2021-09-16  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Poverty, unemployment and crime: A synopsis
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The world outside my window appears different to the next person because our perspectives on many aspects of life are always diametrically opposed. 

This, of course, could be as a result of our upbringing, social standing, educational background and many other factors. 

We often hear that poverty appears glamorous when you are rich. That is flirting with death, I hear you say, but what is poverty? 

In layman’s terms, poverty is defined as not having enough material possessions or income to cover basic needs, and sometimes so extreme that a person lacks food, clothing and shelter. 

This definition begs a rhetorical question: can we accurately quantify poverty? 

The honest answer is that, like many other phenomena, poverty cannot be quantified. It can perhaps be aggregated, based on probabilities and hypotheses, but let’s leave that debate for scientists and statisticians.

For an ordinary citizen like myself, I just need food on my table – and so does the other 2.5 million in Namibia – not to mention some billion individuals the world over. 

“During this period, no Namibian was reported to have died of hunger, despite the country enduring one of the worst droughts in recent history.” 

Ja, neh! I lost a handful of livestock in 2019. Upon inspecting my carcasses, plastic materials were found in their digestive systems. 

My cattle resorted to consuming plastic materials due to drought/hunger. I’m sure they would be regarded as having died of plastic digestion and not due to the drought of 2019! But I digress.

Unemployment and crime

The last time I checked, the unemployment rate among the youths was projected to reach 50.3% by the end of 2021. 

This is indeed a worrying trend but a targeted approach to address poverty, unemployment and crime is within our grasp. 

A 121 constituencies scattered across a population of over 2.5 million people is the first point of departure, in my opinion. 

In the event that developmental projects are introduced and decentralised throughout all these constituencies, and progress is tracked through quarterly reports submission along with external monitoring and evaluation, we cannot be amiss.  

Admittedly, there is what I would term “a symbiotic relationship” between poverty, unemployment and crime. These social ills feed off each other, and one cannot be mentioned without thinking of the others.

VTPs (Vocational Training Providers) should become strategic stakeholders and partners in development with all constituencies, and regional and town councils/municipalities because there are thousands of qualified but unemployed vocational education graduates in these localities who only need a conducive environment and minimal financial support to establish automotive engineering workshops, coffin manufacturing setups, electrical installation workshops and general construction workshops – just to mention a few potential job creation platforms. 

These artisans can grow our economy, and it is exactly at this juncture that the Gross Domestic Product formula we are so familiar with would gain traction that consumption by consumers, coupled with investment by various businesses in our economy, along with government spending and net exports, contribute ultimately to economic growth. 

After considering the above, as a country, we are surely seated on a gold mine and possibly the ultimate panacea to our worst nightmare – poverty. During previous dry spells, we have awoken to the realisation that rainwater harvesting is the solution to quenching thirst long-term but we are still flip-flopping around the idea of constructing earth dams in flood-prone areas. 

Covid-19 had to visit our shores for us to realise the coffin making enterprise is a lucrative industry. 

Then again, drought had to happen for everyone to acknowledge agriculture can save livelihoods sustainably. 

These are not new inventions or discoveries – and to fathom this notion, we need not look any further than our southern neighbour. 

In view of the foregoing, one wonders how many more ‘revelations’ we need to witness in order to start experimenting.   

Therefore, it is a no brainer that there are numerous solutions to all these social phenomena. 

However, the silver bullet is much more financial than it is political, and it requires getting a few basic things right. 

In the words of Sir Winston Leonard Churchill Spencer, “It is the courage to continue that counts”.


2021-09-16  Staff Reporter

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