The GDP per capita (according to the purchasing power parity conversion which allows for the low price
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
of many basic commodities in Namibia) stood at $4,300 in 1999, which places Namibia near the top of the lower middle-income countries in the world ranking. In the mid-1990s surveys indicated that 35 percent of the population were below the US$1 per day poverty line. About 49 percent of the labor force is employed in agriculture, most of which is subsistence farming, and the greatest incidence of poverty is in the rural areas. The high incidence of poverty, despite the relatively high levels of income per head, is an indication of the considerable inequality between the (mostly white) workers in the mining sectors and the rest of the workforce.
The rural poor work by tending family cattle or caring for small family-owned farms under harsh living conditions. They live in wood frame houses with mud walls and hard dirt floors. Mostly they eat cooked cereals and drink milk from their livestock, and rarely, if ever, eat meat. Their clothes are secondhand pieces which came from Europe and were bought in local markets. Water comes from wells, with some piped water in villages; cooking is done over wood fires and lighting is from small kerosene wick lamps, although there is electricity in the larger villages. Sanitation is provided by pit latrines. Still, there is primary education for 90 percent of the children, and dispensaries in villages provide basic health care.
In the towns, for those with employment, conditions tend to be better. Lower middle-class people may live in cement block houses with tin roofs and concrete floors. They have electricity some of the time, and water. Schools and hospitals are nearby. The poor live in slums where they have created rude shelters out of throw-away cloth, cardboard, or plastic. They use pit latrines and communal water taps.