6 Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Where we are

 child playing in crate
a child playing in one of Namibia's informal settlements. Photo - UNDP

Namibia managed to achieve the poverty reduction targets ahead of 2015, but is not on target to achieve equitable distribution of income or eradication of hunger. The proportion of Namibia’s population who live in ‘poor’ and ‘severely poor’ conditions have decreased by more than half over the past 13 years. This is a commendable reduction in poverty and means that less than one third (28.7 percent) of the population currently lives below the poverty line. Namibia has at the same time, significantly reduced the poverty gap ratio, surpassing the target to halve the poverty gap by 2015. However, inequality remains a serious challenge, with high poverty levels in rural areas, and among female-headed households, older pensioners and subsistence farmers. Two regions had poverty levels of 50 percent or more, while increased poverty levels were experienced in Khomas region. The gini coefficient has fallen but remains one of the highest in the world.

The unemployment rate of 27 percent is lower than the 52 percent in 2008 but it continues to be extremely high among Namibian youth (52 percent). Gross domestic product has grown modestly, hitting 5 percent per annum in 2012, while the share of the poorest decile more than doubled between 2003/04 and 2009/10. Hunger and malnutrition remain a serious concern for Namibia, especially with the current drought across many of the regions. Although Namibia has made great strides and achieved key milestones towards eradicating poverty and hunger, there are still challenges in terms of unemployment and unemployability, limited skilled and qualified human resources, limited research and development, food insecurity and malnutrition, and ongoing corruption and mismanagement of funds. Key interventions that should receive attention for the remaining period before the end of 2015 are the design of innovative ways to create employment, build Namibia’s human capital, scale up a well-established social grant system, raise the budget allocation to education, health and food production programmes, speed up the processing of vital registration documents, and more effectively implement the Zero-Tolerance for Corruption strategy.

Status at a glance




TARGET (2015)




Halve the proportion of individuals classified as poor (consumption expenditure on food and non-food items of N$377.96 per adult equivalent per month)

69.3% (1993/94)1

28.7% (2009/10)1



Halve the proportion of individuals classified as severely poor (consumption expenditure on food and non-food items of N$277.96 per adult equivalent per month)

58.9% (1993/94)1

15.3% (2009/10)1



Gini coefficient

0.7 (2003/04)3

0.5971 (2009/10)2


Not on target

Halve the poverty gap ratio (%) - Poor

37.7% (1993/94)1

8.8% (2009/10)1



Halve the Poverty gap ratio (%) - Severely Poor

28.1% (1993/94)1

4.2% (2009/10)1



Employment to population ratio

43.1 (1997)8

47.9 (2009/10)2


No target set

Growth rate of GDP per person employed (N$)




No target set

Proportion of own account and contributing family workers in total employment

7.7 (1997)8



No target set

GDP growth (p.a.)

3.6 (1993)8

5 (2012)8


Not on target

Double the share of poorest decile in national consumption

1.07 (2003/04)3

2.4 (2009/10)2

5 (MDG+)

Not on target

Children under five stunted, in % of all children under five

28.4% (1992)7

29% (2006/07)7


Not on target

1.69 years
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG1
  1. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
    • Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Poverty gap ratio
    • Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
    • Growth rate of GDP per person employed
    • Employment-to-population ratio
    • Proportion of employed people living below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
    • Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
    • Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption