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In a majority of African countries, governments implement social protection programs to improve the people’s well-being. However, international nongovernmental organizations and development partners help the governments to reach a substantial number of people. Some of the common welfare programs in these countries involve provision of fundamental needs such as unconditional and conditional cash transfers, food aid, and school feeding programs. Further, some governments have established programs that enhance productivity and price control of basic commodities; however, some countries exhibit elaborate welfare programs that target vulnerable groups, especially young children and the elderly as well as HIV/AIDS patients. According to Niño-Zarazúa, Barrientos, Hickey, and Hulme (2012), some countries such as Kenya have registered NGOs that run financial and micro financial institutions that provide loans at affordable interest rates. In essence, these financial services assist members of these groups to establish small businesses that would improve people’s living standards.
The Namibian government runs the Basic Income Grant pilot that was started in 2009 in Otjivero. The community project was initiated to support local community after a layoff of a majority of workers from farm work. Although commercial farmers that dwell in places around settlement schemes believe that schemes are breeding grounds for criminals. The residents assert that the scheme has improved the quality of lives. Essentially, before the establishment of the scheme, many people lacked places to reside since they had lost their jobs while they lacked any other avenue for employment. However, the settlement offers them a small piece of land to practice subsistence farming to support their lives (Haarmann, n.d). Further, members of the scheme share experiences with other communities to encourage them to start similar projects because they generate substantial benefits. The government ought to embrace positive effects of the scheme because it has achieved promising results despite opposition from the surrounding commercial farmers on the program.
According to Omilola and Kaniki (2014), Namibia welfare programs are divided into three categories that are “a system of social grants funded through taxes, a state run contributory component, and a privately managed pension system for formally employed persons in the private sector” (p. 13). The government supports social grants such as the old age pension (OAP) for all Namibians aged above sixty-five years. On the same note, the government supports physically challenged person aged over sixteen years. However, a public doctor has to ascertain that the person is physically challenged either temporarily or permanently. Further, the state runs child grants that cover a maximum of three children per family. Such grants are essential because inadequate access to fundamental rights has adverse effects on child mortality rates.
Notably, Namibia enjoys an effective economic management policy and political stability that has helped the country to fight unemployment and reduce poverty in the country. Even though the government spends indiscriminately on social programs, the programs have not helped to create new job opportunities. The leadership faces challenges inherited from the apartheid system that led to extreme economic and social inequities. Importantly, the country faces both short and long-term challenges given that it depends on a volatile ecosystem. In 2014, the nation recorded a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.5% that was lower than 5.1% recorded in 2013. However, the economy’s growth is higher than the anticipated 4.3%. Further, foreign direct investments in the mining sector in the country have contributed much to the country’s economic growth. Namibia has improved fiscal stimulus and lowered interest rates that have attracted several FDIs to promote household consumption, construction industry, and tradable services. As of July 2015, the country’s inflation rate dropped to 3.3% from 6.1% in June 2014. Nevertheless, unemployment in Namibia remains high at levels of 28% that means it had not changed since 1990 when the country gained its independence.
Nonetheless, the country has programs to address challenges that many people face such as basic education and health care services. Further, the government wishes to improve to safe water. In essence, the constitution and leadership policies address the issues of gender inequality. The leadership encourages equality in education for female children. For instance, in 2012, more female students than males were enrolled in primary schools in the country (Mokomane, 2013). Ideally, the promotion of gender equality in access to basic education seeks to alleviate poverty among women; the leadership believes that women form the backbone of the country’s economy, as such; when more females are educated, the chances of more children going to school would improve. In the health sector, the government has reduced maternal deaths to approximately 130 per 100,000 births or 81 deaths in 2013. Meanwhile, fertility rates stood at 52 per 1,000 teenagers in 2013. Women have made enormous improvement over the time; subsequently, 56% of women among the population were in active employment in 2013 when compared to 65% of males in the same year (Devereux, 2013). On the same note, 49% of women’s population was employed while 85% of both men and women engaged in vulnerable employment. Moreover, 27% of females involved in the agricultural sector compared to 28% of males in the same sector (The World Bank, 2015). The data shows that the leadership enforces gender equality by providing equal opportunities of education, health care, and employment for both men and women. As such, women do not depend on men because they can access employment opportunities to support their lifestyles.
Even though international labor organizations acknowledge that Namibia has high unemployment rates of 28%, a majority of people work in the informal sector that is not considered as employment. As a result, those people are perceived unemployed despite the fact that they earn from informal jobs. Namibia has wide range of informal employment opportunities for semi-skilled laborers (Unicef.org, 2015). Most people that dwell in rural areas practice subsistence farming that provides them with adequate food supply and extra amounts for sales to meet household necessities. Small-scale manufacturing, mining, construction, informal services such as transport and informal trade employ more than fifty percent of the country’s population (The World Bank, 2015). However, small scales trade both within the country and across the border accounts for the largest share of the country people outside formal employment.
Apparently, the government-controlled pension scheme for Namibian senior citizens was ineffective as pensioners had to travel for over twenty kilometers to receive their funds. As a result, the system was strenuous as some of the elderly and vulnerable members of the society opted to stay away from pension points (Mokomane, 2013). However, privatization of the program brought the services closer to the people that increased accessibility and the number of elderly persons who had access to the funds. However, the privatization increased maintenance costs for the programs that average 9% of the funds (Chiripanhura & Niño-Zarazúa, n.d). The private programs closed down loopholes that some unscrupulous individuals used to access pensioner funds. Nevertheless, the program still has loopholes as some individuals continue to withdraw funds upon death of the beneficiaries. The system is yet to adopt digital systems to reduce fraudulent activities in the program because it leads to enormous losses of funds that could be used to support more people. Oxford Policy Management (2014) agrees that technological advances reduce administrative costs given that it reduces labor force because of the easy access and retrieval of beneficiaries’ information.
On the other hand, the basic social grant is ineffective because it does not target the needy. As such, some qualified beneficiaries lack access to funds due to rampant errors. Other households receive such funds even though they are in a position to support their lifestyles. Further, most of the beneficiaries live in urban areas despite the poverty rates that are higher in rural areas. As a result, over 50% of the beneficiaries are substantially rich; however, low income households fail to qualify for the funds (The World Bank, 2015). Consequently, it is essential to raise inclusion criteria to reduce or eliminate the number of non-poor households that have access to the funds. At the same time, the social sector requires an analysis to ascertain its sustainability and affordability given that the population is growing, and, life expectancy in the country is on the rise (Chiripanhura & Niño-Zarazúa, n.d). In effect, more people qualify for the funds because they live under abject poverty.
In brief, the government has established impressive steps to address the needs of the poor; however, such programs require various changes to ensure their sustainability. For instance, the poor require access to high-quality education to improve their chances of securing formal employment to break the poverty cycle. In essence, the people cannot survive on grants because it would not aid them in alleviating poverty in the masses.
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