Menstrual Health in NamibiaOn March 17, 2021, Namibia made the decision to no longer tax menstrual products beginning in the 2022-23 financial year. Currently, these products are taxed 15%, which makes it difficult for many to afford these essential items. The removal of this tax is an important change wherever it takes place. It is especially significant in places like Namibia where 73% of households do not even have adequate handwashing facilities. The tax elimination will not fix all issues related to the inaccessibility of menstrual products, however, it is a major step toward improving menstrual health in Namibia.

The Cycle of Period Poverty

Menstrual health is vital to one’s overall health. Globally, one in five girls misses school due to limited access to menstrual products. This means girls are missing up to one week of school every month. Consequently, students may find it difficult to keep up with their classmates and succeed in school. As getting an education is one of the most effective ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty, this puts girls at an even greater disadvantage and maintains the cycle of poverty.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as period poverty. Period poverty is an unfortunate reality in Namibia and across the world. The goal of eliminating tampon tax and increasing the availability of menstrual products is to ensure no one misses opportunities simply because they are menstruating. Moreover, no one deserves to have to choose between buying sanitary products or buying food. Furthermore, no one should have to miss work or school simply because they cannot afford menstrual products. Making these products more easily available will reduce poverty and improve menstrual health in Namibia and around the world.

Women resort to alternatives such as rags, paper towels or old pads when they do not have access to menstrual products. The use of these items puts girls at risk of infections. The inaccessibility of sanitary products has also been linked with poor mental health and overall distress. These effects are easily preventable when menstrual products become accessible.

Menstrual Stigma

Many people do not consider menstrual health when trying to improve overall health. In many parts of the world, menstruation is considered unclean and shameful. This prevents many women from participating in society while menstruating. Access to menstrual products, like any other products that improve sanitation and health, is a human right. Regulations removing menstrual tax make these products more affordable and accessible. The removal of tampon tax will not take away the stigma surrounding menstruation, however, it will help protect people from disease, improve mental health and ease the completion of daily tasks while menstruating.

Namibia’s deputy minister in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus, states, “Period poverty is one of the undignifying processes women and young ladies have to experience. Your period is such a natural process and not something they can opt out of. There are not enough social and economic circumstances to create safety for young women.” Since menstruation is a natural experience for nearly half of the population, equitable access to sanitary products should not be negotiable.

Addressing Period Poverty Globally

Namibia is not the first country to eliminate tampon tax, countries such as Kenya, India, Australia and South Africa have also done so. Other countries, such as Germany, have decreased the amount of tax. However, in most of the world, including most U.S. states, these essential items are still taxed, which makes menstrual products unavailable to many. The state of menstrual health in Namibia is sure to improve now that tampon tax is done away with. The rest of the world should look to Namibia as an example and make similar changes. Every girl and woman deserves to menstruate with dignity and Namibia is one step closer to making this a reality.

Harriet Sinclair
Photo: Flickr

Namibia's AGOA Utilization StrategySince 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been an important part of U.S. foreign and economic policies. It provides incentives for African countries “to open their economies and build free markets.” By promoting commercial ties, the U.S. benefits from trade with African countries that are eligible to participate. Additionally, the African countries also benefit from a growing and more prosperous economy. This enhanced development creates new jobs in underdeveloped countries and helps build a more sustainable economy, aiding in poverty struggles. Namibia, a sub-Saharan African country, is a prime example of the positive development and economic impacts of AGOA. Not only does Namibia implement AGOA with U.S. support, but on May 10, 2021, the country initiated the AGOA Utilization Strategy for tariff-free exports. Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy promises economic growth benefits for the country.

Namibia’s Background

Namibia is a country in Southwest Africa with a population of 2.5 million. The status of poverty in Namibia is not as extreme as in other African countries. Nevertheless, 28.7% of Namibians are impoverished and 15% live in extreme poverty.

While the World Bank classifies Namibia as upper-middle-income, the country still remains a developing country. Namibia has been negatively affected by social and economic imbalances stemming from apartheid, heavy agricultural reliance and structural inequality. Namibia’s Gini coefficient value reflects the immense suffering Namibians face due to socio-economic gaps. Namibia has a Gini coefficient of 0.597, establishing it as “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

In terms of economic freedom, Namibia boasts a sixth-place ranking out of 47 sub-Saharan African countries with an overall ranking scoring above regional and global averages. While Namibia’s economic success is positive in comparison to other African countries, the country still faces considerable socio-economic disparities and the U.N. still considers Namibia an underdeveloped country. With the introduction of AGOA into African economies, the development and economic growth of participating countries show a hopeful future for Africa.

AGOA Background

Former President Bill Clinton initiated the African Growth and Opportunity Act on May 18, 2000. Clinton initially designated 34 sub-Saharan African countries as eligible for AGOA, allowing for trade benefits between the U.S. and participating African countries. Not only would this law boost participating economies, but it also redefines U.S.-Africa relations. Today, about 40 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible to be AGOA beneficiaries.

Since the start of AGOA implementation, participants’ combined exports increased 500% from $8.15 billion to $53.8 billion between 2001 and 2011. The creation of AGOA through U.S. legislation proves favorable for African economic growth and aims to reduce poverty in the African continent.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy

While the implementation of AGOA in Namibia follows the passing of the U.S. legislation in 2000, Namibia only recently decided to make full use of the program. To fully utilize AGOA, U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, joined minister of industrialization and trade, Lucia Lipumbu, to launch the AGOA Utilization Strategy in Namibia in May 2021.

The new strategy seeks to increase Namibia’s U.S. exports to more than 6,400 tariff-free products. Additionally, the plan addresses policy, supply and market challenges faced in Namibian trade, using public and private sector representatives to execute the AGOA strategy.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy expands mutually beneficial trade, improving the economy and fostering alliance between the U.S. and Namibia. The African Growth and Opportunity Act proves helpful in strengthening economies, fostering development and encouraging global networking. Support for African growth and opportunity efforts is mutually beneficial for all those participating in the global market, with the ability to improve living standards in underdeveloped countries.

Kylie Lally
Photo: Flickr

Human trafficking in NamibiaAccording to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, more than 40 million people worldwide were trafficked into modern slavery as of 2016. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, this number was 7.8 million, making up 19% of the world’s trafficked population. In 2020, Namibia became the first African country to reach the rank of Tier 1 in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons report for its progress in eliminating human trafficking.

Measuring Human Trafficking

The most widely accepted and comprehensive measurement of human trafficking is the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the United States Department of State. The report measures countries on how well they prosecute human trafficking offenders, protect human trafficking victims and prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place. This system divides countries into three tiers and ranks them based upon what minimum standards of compliance they meet.

Firstly, Tier 3 countries do not meet minimum standards and do not attempt to comply. Tier 2 countries do not meet all of the minimum standards but actively work toward them. Ultimately, Tier 1 countries comply with the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. Still, that does not mean human trafficking completely ceases to exist in these countries. These tiers are diplomatic tools as well as a guide for the allocation of resources. For example, a Tier 2 county needs more international assistance than a Tier 1 country, while a Tier 3 country may face negative consequences such as trade restrictions.

Namibia’s Path to Tier 1

The United States Department of State identified Namibia as a “Special Case” in the 2008 TIP report. This designation means observers suspect the country of having a significant amount of human trafficking but there is not enough reliable data to determine its tier ranking. The specific concern with Namibia was that the country was engaged as both a source and destination for child sex and labor trafficking.

In 2009 Namibia moved up to Tier 2 sitting on the Watch List from 2012 to 2015. Namibia was removed from the Watch List but stayed at Tier 2 from 2016 to 2019. Since then, Namibia has taken significant steps toward eliminating human trafficking.

During the TIP reporting period for 2020 rankings, Namibia made sufficient improvements to move from Tier 2 to Tier 1. These improvements include:

  • Enforcing the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018
  • Prosecuting more human traffickers with stricter penalties
  • Identifying and caring for more victims
  • Launching an awareness campaign
  • Increasing prevention efforts and training

In 2020 alone, Namibia arrested 31 individuals for sex and labor trafficking and has 29 open investigations, compared to the investigation of nine cases in 2018. The government was also able to identify 30 victims of human trafficking, including 20 children. NGO shelters cared for all the victims.

Looking to the Future

Even countries with Tier 1 ratings have work to do to continue making steps toward the complete elimination of human trafficking and prevent backsliding. While Namibia has made dramatic improvements, the United States Department of State noted that training for frontline responders was not always adequate. Furthermore, there was some miscommunication between different government and civil sectors. To continue on its current path of progress, the Department of State recommends that Namibia improves training and coordination. The Department also recommends that Namibia’s government should continue to prosecute offenders and provide for victims. By continuously improving its services, Namibia can get closer to eliminating human trafficking and provide safer living conditions for its citizens.

– Starr Sumner
Photo: Flickr

Period PovertyPeriod poverty, a significant issue around the world, is an umbrella term that describes inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products, washing facilities, waste management and education. This lack of access impacts women and girls in Namibia, sometimes hindering their health and education. However, Eco-Sanitary Training, a local business, is stepping in to help.

Worldwide Period Poverty

Globally, there are 2.3 billion people that live without basic sanitation. 73% live in homes without sufficient hand-washing facilities. This exacerbates period poverty, as it makes it almost impossible for women and girls to manage their periods.

In many places around the world, menstruation products are very hard to access due to high prices. Although these products are a necessity, many countries still tax them. In Hungary, the tax rate on feminine hygiene products in 2020 is 27%, followed by Sweden and Mexico with 25% and 16% respectively. Some of the countries where female sanitary items are tax-free include Ireland, Malaysia, Tanzania and Lebanon.

An example of how feminine hygiene products affect women can be seen through the story of Suzana Frederick, a 19-year-old single mother who lives at Arusha, Tanzania. Frederick makes around 30,000 shillings ($13) monthly and spends between 1,500 and 3,000 shillings ($0.70 to $1.30) on sanitary products. The amount she spends on the products is  5% to 10% of her salary. This would be equivalent to an American woman with an average wage spending around $169 and $338 for sanitary products.

Period Poverty in Namibia

Period poverty has many consequences for women and girls in Namibia. According to Action Aid, “One in 10 girls in Africa miss school because they don’t have access to sanitary products, or because there aren’t safe, private toilets to use at school.” Many women and girls are also forced to use mattresses, clothes and newspapers every month because they cannot afford sanitary products.

A story from a girl who lives in Namibia reveals that she chose to get a contraceptive injection because her mother couldn’t afford pads. Contraceptive injections – a birth control method of releasing hormones like progesterone to stop the release of an egg – are free in all governmental hospitals in Namibia. Unfortunately, the injections have side effects, including significant bone mineral density loss, and are not intended for regulating menstruation. Another girl, also from Namibia, mentioned that dating older men is the only option that some girls have to get the money needed to afford pads.

How a Local Business Has Helped

Eco-Sanitary Trading is a local business in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Around March 4, 2019, the business joined the local market to make affordable pads that are high in quality and can also be reused or discarded. The managing director of the business, Naomi Kefas, mentioned that she got the idea from the realization of the fact that many girls are missing school frequently due to their periods.

For two years, Kefas and her team did extensive research and traveled to places including South Africa, Kenya, India and China to invent a new sanitary pad. They then came up with a product called “Perfect Fit,” a locally produced sanitary pad with good quality and affordability. “Perfect Fit” is benefiting women and girls in Namibia.

Moving Forward

The work that Eco-Sanitary Trading is essential to reducing period poverty in Namibia. However, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations also step in. Moving forward, other barriers to menstrual hygiene products and facilities must be reduced, including high tax rates.

Alison Choi
Photo: Unsplash

Healthcare in Nimiba
Namibia aims to improve the accessibility and quality of its healthcare system. Namibia is an upper-middle-income country located in southern Africa. Unfortunately, as it became an upper-middle-income country, Namibia’s healthcare fell behind. The country must overcome obstacles to continue improving its healthcare system. These obstacles include a shortage of doctors, inadequate funding and income inequality. The country also faces HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis crises. Despite its economic progress, Namibia has the sixth highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. This article covers this nation’s efforts to ensure its citizens have access to quality healthcare.

Healthcare Structure

Namibia gained independence in 1990. In its early years, the government declared healthcare a human right and made systemic changes to its healthcare system. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) formed. The MoHSS is responsible for implementing policy and delivering primary healthcare to Namibians.

Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world with about three people per square kilometer. According to The World Bank, 48.9% of Namibians live in rural communities. Therefore, providing access to healthcare is a significant challenge.

Namibia’s healthcare system consists of four distinct components: intermediate and referral hospitals, clinics, health centers and district hospitals. Each component has a unique role and specialized medical staff. For example, nurses staff clinics who provide basic care. People receive referrals to a health center or a district hospital for more serious cases. The most serious cases obtain treatment at intermediate and referral hospitals. Namibia houses “1150 outreach points, 309 health centers [and] 34 district hospitals.”

Namibia’s bed-to-population ratio is equivalent to that of higher-income countries including New Zeland and Norway. However, because of Namibia’s low population density, about 21% of Namibians live more than 10 km away from a health provider. The MoHSS partners with private organizations like USAID SHOPS to provide mobile health clinics. Mobile health clinics help reach rural communities in Namibia. They provide a range of services including immunizations, health education and HIV tests. Both the private and public sectors fund the mobile health network.

Funding Healthcare

In 2014, Namibia spent $200 million to prevent and treat HIV cases. Unfortunately, despite the work of the MoHSS, the leading cause of death is from non-communal diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In 2019, approximately 210,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Namibia; about 11.5% of these adults and children are between 14 and 49. Thankfully, Namibia is not alone in fighting against the virus; organizations including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention help with technical assistance and workforce recruiting.

The Namibian government aims to spend 15% of its GDP on healthcare. However, Namibia only spent about 8.6% of GDP on healthcare in 2017. Funding from donors has been declining since Namibia’s reclassification in 2009. The decrease is because of Namibia’s reclassification as an upper-middle-income country. In 2008, donors made up 22% of the country’s healthcare funding. In 2017, donors funded 7% of Namibia’s healthcare expenditure.

A variety of other sources fund Namibia’s healthcare system: 19% from the private sector, 11% from households and 63% from the government. Namibia needs additional funding to improve its healthcare system, especially as its GDP growth slows. Additionally, healthcare costs will increase as the country’s population ages.

Healthcare Workforce

Another of Namibia’s largest healthcare problems is the lack of public doctors. There are more private doctors than public doctors in many regions of the country. In Hardap, 80% of the doctors work in the private sector. A shortage of public doctors increases the cost of healthcare. According to The World Bank, there are approximately 1,222 doctors; 784 doctors work in the public sector and 438 work in the private sector. Half of Namibia’s physicians work in Khomas, the region containing Namibia’s capital. In 2018, there were approximately 0.33 doctors for every 1,000 people.

Namibia is working to address the shortage of public doctors; the Namibian government is supporting medical students’ education, hoping doctors and nurses will enter the public sector. In 2019, Namibia sponsored about half of its medical students.

Many issues persist within the Namibian healthcare system. Fortunately, groups like the Namibian government and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention have dedicated themselves to improving healthcare in Namibia. Hopefully, by making investments like supporting medical students’ education, Namibia will improve its healthcare system.

Joshua Meribole
Photo: Unsplash

Homelessness in Namibia Namibia, neighbored by Zambia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa is a West African country home to one of the world’s largest deserts. The legacy of colonialism and apartheid in Namibia has contributed greatly to the population’s present social struggles. The extreme inequality and dispossession are the cause of the bleak circumstances for Namibia’s poor. One of those circumstances today is homelessness in Namibia.

Facts About Poverty in Namibia

Namibia’s rate of unemployment is 33.4%, and 20% of the population lives in the slums. In 2017, Namibia has rated the second most unequal country in the world, second only to South Africa. A 2018 study showed that greater than 90% of Namibians do not qualify for a housing loan, and thus are unable to buy houses. Additionally, the price of housing continues to skyrocket, excluding low-income households from purchasing homes. It was estimated in 2016 that nearly 90% of Namibians earned less than N$2,700 a month, which in itself excludes them from mortgage eligibility.

Homelessness in Namibia

In Namibia, there is an alarmingly high number of people who have dwellings but no formal houses. The rate of shacks to brick houses rose to 4:1 by 2016. The informal settlements that have arisen out of peoples’ need for housing lack potable water, electricity or toilet facilities. This lack of resources increases the population’s susceptibility to diseases such as cholera, polio and Hepatitis E. In addition, shack fires are common occurrences, often resulting in loss of life. Homeless people in Namibia often take refuge in unused city buildings, on park benches, in abandoned houses and under bridges.

In the age of COVID-19, the Namibian government has rounded up hundreds of Namibia’s homeless people. Additionally, the government provides tent shelters for homeless people and encourages them to seclude themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. Moreover, concerns over sanitation have arisen, especially as certain members of the population have tuberculosis (TB). Food is provided by churches, but it is not enough. The beds are reportedly too close together to comply with social distancing.

Solutions to Help Reduce Homelessness in Namibia

On the bright side, in 2018, Hage Geingob, Namibia’s president,  issued a statement addressing the housing crisis. He called the state of affairs a “humanitarian crisis.” The president announced that a N$10 million donation would be given to the Namibia Shack Dweller’s Federation by Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) to build 270 low-cost houses throughout the country. The Namibia Shack Dweller’s Federation is a group of Namibians seeking adequate housing for themselves and their communities. The Shack Dweller’s Federation is able to secure land for community members in need through community savings and government contributions. In addition, the group had about 25,000 members as of March 2020. Most of the members are women making under N$4,000 monthly. The Shack Dweller’s Federation has built over 3488  houses to date, which has been distributed to new homeowners.

MTC is Namibia’s leading digital enabler. MTC announced a performance competition, “MTC Knockout Project,” among 30 public personalities. Additionally, corporations will have the opportunity to pledge N$50 thousand on behalf of any of the competing personalities. The goal is to raise N$1 million to combat homelessness in Namibia.

The housing situation in Namibia is in crisis. This is due to high land prices, low wages, high unemployment rate and high mortgages rates. Luckily, the government and other organizations are working to combat these issues. Additionally, with the building of affordable housing, the increase of viable job opportunities and the support of food banks, homelessness in Namibia will sharply decrease in the coming years.

Elise Ghitman
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Namibia
Even as one of the eight countries in Africa classified as an upper-middle-income country, Namibia is still striving overall to eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. The implementation of new socioeconomic structures from the Namibian government and partnering initiatives will soon make the vision of no poverty in Namibia a reality.

Living Below the Poverty Line

Of the nation’s population of 2.5 million people, 17.4% were living below the poverty line in 2015 and 2016. This is a drastic decrease of over 11% between 2009 and 2010 when 28.7% of the population lived below the poverty line. This progress aside, environmental conditions and employment rates have inhibited the growth of economic status and societal wealth in Namibia.

Although the poverty line decreased in 2016, unemployment remained at a steady rate of 34%. Women were more likely to be affected by unemployment at 38.3%, and youth counterparts suffered at a rate of 43.4%. The rates of poverty and unemployment are dependent on people’s surroundings. Youth living in rural areas are likely to experience more difficulty finding a job than those living in an urban setting.

Education in Namibia

Education in Namibia, similar to in the U.S., is a primary skill to have when looking for work. Therefore, poverty in Namibia significantly affects people who may not have access to education. This includes those living in rural areas, those affected by disabilities and women. People living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by inadequate access to education due to a lack of resources. Rural communities often have limited access to management, funding, technology and information. In many cases, these resources directly affect employment opportunities.

Unfortunately, one-third of students drop out of school before the tenth grade. This issue correlates to the lack of teaching qualifications, as more than 20% of teachers in Namibia have no formal qualifications. The number of students that continue to higher education also remains at a low estimate of 19%.

To combat these challenges, there is a need for mobilization of employment policies to rural areas in Namibia.

The High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE)

The HLPNE was appointed by the Namibian government in March 2019 to respond to issues regarding “the path toward recovery and growth.” The seminar discussed economic inequalities, examining the investments and policies for the creation of jobs. According to the ILO, “The HLPNE has four pillars of work that include building a $1 billion investment portfolio, removing policy impediments, promoting Namibia for tourism and investment and creating employment opportunities.”

Honourable Erkki Nghimtina, Namibia’s labour minister, and Chair of the HLPNE Johannes Gawaxab both spoke during the seminar. They believe that the economy needs funding to gradually allow for job creation. In turn, this would balance the socioeconomic disproportion in Namibia. Tax incentives and government funding from private sectors and organizations would provide the ability to implement this, allowing the country’s economy to respond properly.

Vision 2030

Along with this, the Namibian government has created a developmental agenda to combat poverty in Namibia: Vision 2030. Vision 2030 enacts targets to create new and improved policies to form a more unified government between all sectors, both rural and urban. This agenda focuses on healthcare, education, housing and more in order to provide equal opportunity for those living in poverty in Namibia. Modernizing the economy within rural sectors will provide more funding and resources between schools. This will allow students to receive appropriate education, specifically developing skills needed for work in Namibia.

With help from new initiatives and improved policies and targets, awareness is being brought to poverty in Namibia. This awareness will allow for improvement upon the inequalities that still affect rural and urban sectors. These contributions will enable Namibia to continue making positive strides to eliminate poverty by 2030.

– Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in NamibiaAlthough Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still struggles with a high rate of poverty and undernourishment. According to the World Food Program, 26.9% of the country’s population lives in poverty. In addition, according to the U.N., 430,000 people are in desperate need of food. Namibia, since its independence, has seen good economic growth. The country’s GDP grew from $3.8 billion in 2000 to $12.3 billion in 2019. However, hunger in Namibia remains a growing issue.

Over the past years, the agriculture economy in Namibia has suffered from droughts. The reduction of produce from the food industry is causing hunger in Namibia as families struggle to grow enough food to feed their families. Hunger in Namibia is leaving many children and families malnourished which significantly affects the progress of the nation. Still, both the government and its partners are working to address hunger in Namibia.

Who Is Affected?

Over the past decade, Namibia has faced a lot of droughts leaving low-income-earners struggling to make a living. With a population of approximately 2.4 million people in 2018, 18% (430,000) of the country’s people face severe acute food insecurity and need humanitarian aid.

According to a government report, the country’s agriculture sector, which is partially powered by smallholder farmers, provides for most of the country’s population. Many families who are low income find it difficult to buy food because of increasing food prices.

Malnutrition in Namibia is also affecting children. According to the World Food Program, approximately 23% of children in Namibia are stunted in their growth because they do not eat enough nutritious food. Stunting can have a dangerous effect on the development of children and can even influence their behaviors as they grow older.

Causes of Hunger in Namibia.

In 2019, because of the lack of rain, Namibia food production, both its crops and livestock, fell. Namibia lost 60,000 tons of crops and 60,000 livestock. The two main crops that are planted are maize, which declined in production by 26% between 2018 and 2019, and millet, which declined by 89%. The lack of rain in Namibia hit cereal production the hardest.

The most affected regions of the country are Northwestern parts and the Southern provinces. Due to losses in sales from their livestock, some farmer’s households are finding it difficult to purchase food from markets. Currently, families in 14 regions in Namibia spend more than 50% of their income on food. The cause of drought in Namibia has been attributed to climate change, which is said to be only getting worse.

What Is Being Done?

To help fight against the hunger crisis, the government incorporated the Hunger Initiative in the Harambee Prosperity Plan in August 2016, a plan which is in action through 2020. The plan focuses on 5 different pillars: Effective governance, economic advancement, social progression, infrastructure development, international relations and cooperation. The fight against hunger falls into the Social Progression sector. According to a government report in 2019, Namibia’s government is addressing the country’s hunger crisis by making food banks available in 7 different regions in the country. These food banks reach 17,260 food-insecure households. To deliver food the government relies on unemployed youth who are part of Street Committees.

Government aid provided to people who are food-insecure varies. For example, between 2016 and 2017 the government spent $304 million on its drought program but only $5 million in 2017-2018 because the impact of the drought was lower. To provide malnourished children with food, the government uses a program called the School Feeding Programme. In 2017 they fed 377,521 students. According to the government, providing students with food helps limit the school dropout rate among students who live in poverty. The World Food Program is also helping the government fight malnutrition in children by providing Namibia with technical assistance; the group also helps the country with both policy and strategic guidance.

Furthermore, to help farmers, the government work also extends to provide them with 162 tractors to aid in the cost of plowing for communal farmers.

Although Namibia faces the constant threat of drought, the government and its partners are dedicated to providing nutritious food to many families in need.

Joshua Meribole
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Namibia
Namibia suffers from a lack of sanitation, particularly in rural areas. Since 2006, the country has been working to improve sanitation levels through organizations that have provided increased access to facilities. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, global sanitation and hygiene are more prominent than ever. How has sanitation in Namibia changed? How is the government responding to COVID-19? The following 10 facts detail how organizations and the government continue to fight for improved hygiene.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Namibia

  1. Sanitation and Health: Namibia has the lowest levels of sanitation coverage in southern Africa. Only 34 percent of the country’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities. That percentage drops to 14 percent in the country’s rural areas. The practice of open defecation, which occurs in 14 percent of urban areas and 77 percent of rural areas, increases the spread of diseases and majorly impacts general health.
  2. Hepatitis E: In Namibia, the practice of open defecation caused a Hepatitis E outbreak in 2017. Hepatitis E is a liver disease that commonly spreads through the ingestion of contaminated water. Starting in Windhoek, the disease spread to more than half of the country’s regions. The Community-Led Total Sanitation campaign emerged to eliminate Hepatitis E in Namibia. The campaign involves multiple organizations in efforts to improve access to sanitation facilities in informal settlements.
  3. Access to Sanitation Facilities: In March 2020, the city of Windhoek made an effort to increase access to sanitation facilities by installing a combined 25 toilets in the constituencies of Katutura and Khomasdal. Fransina Kahungu, mayor of Windhoek, promised the donation of another 40 sanitation facilities to other communities in the near future to continue improving sanitation in Namibia.
  4. Access to Clean Water: According to the most recent Namibian Population and Housing Census report, 80 percent of households have access to clean water but only 60 percent in rural populations have clean water access. In the 2019-20 annual report by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Directorate of Water Resource Management described the progress in making clean water more accessible. In the past year, the directorate oversaw the installment of nine hydrological stations and five boreholes. The directorate also monitored rivers to determine water quality. It also installed five cello instrumentations to monitor wastewater in Tses, Noordoewer, Blouputz, Rundu and Chobe Water Villas.
  5. Population and Sanitation: In 2018, 4.5 percent of rural populations migrated to cities in search of better social and economic options. This caused a high unemployment rate of 34 percent, and a lack of affordable housing created problems with access to clean water and sanitation facilities. The Community Land Information Program of Namibia estimated that 25 percent of the population lives in informal settlements, resulting in an increase of open defecation and Hepatitis E outbreaks.
  6. Sanitation in Schools: A Ministry of Education study in 2009 showed that 23 percent of schools in Namibia did not have sanitation facilities. More recently in 2018, another study found that nearly a quarter of schools still lacked toilets. UNICEF took note of this and implemented a program to help regions coordinate more access to sanitation facilities in schools. Approximately 19,000 students and 40 teachers received training in implementing sanitation efforts. By the end of 2018, open defecation in these areas had decreased from 52 percent to 25 percent.
  7. Menstrual Hygiene: According to the World Bank, at least 500 million women and girls around the world do not have access to proper facilities for menstrual hygiene management. This causes absenteeism in schools, resulting in girls missing school during their menstrual cycles. Namibia had its first Menstrual Hygiene Management Day in May 2018, where UNICEF helped mobilize policy support for menstrual hygiene management. The program that UNICEF implemented also created menstrual hygiene and management clubs in schools. These clubs aimed to eradicate stigma and address menstrual challenges. By including community involvement, the program created a lasting impact on the 38 schools focused on.
  8. Effects on Children: Consumption of contaminated water can cause children to become sick and malnourished. In 2015, 17 percent of children in Namibia suffered from diarrhea. Repeated episodes of diarrhea can result in childhood stunting, another common health problem in Namibia. A disparity between rural and urban populations also exists, with 20 percent of rural children suffering from diarrhea compared to 15 percent of urban children.
  9. Open Defecation-Free Namibia: Lack of sanitation and the practice of open defecation cause water contamination in Namibia. The communication strategy Open Defecation-Free Namibia emerged in 2014 with support from UNICEF and aims to raise awareness of the connection between sanitation and health. By using a mass media campaign, the strategy hopes to mobilize the public in Namibia to work with the government to decrease open defecation and increase sanitation in Namibia.
  10. Response to COVID-19: The pandemic has forced areas of Namibia to increase hygiene protocols, such as providing sanitation dispensers and stations at local retail and shopping centers. Workplaces have also taken precautionary measures to protect employees while public transit increases daily sanitation of buses. The office of the minister has encouraged public institutions to promote hygiene awareness, an issue now prevalent around the world. Namibia joined a global partnership in 2019, Sanitation and Water for All, to improve sanitation in Namibia with aid from other countries.

Sanitation in Namibia continues to be a problem in the country. Thankfully, organizations like UNICEF and the Community-Led Total Sanitation campaign are working to improve living conditions for the public. Through these programs and maintaining sanitation at the forefront of local government’s agendas, Namibia will see progress in the health and sanitation of its country.

Kiyomi Kishaba
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Namibia
Namibia has continued to make large strides in many aspects of life, including life expectancy. Having suffered a history of colonization and oppression, Namibia struggled for years with political, social and cultural issues. However, as the country has begun to strengthen and mingle on a global level, it has and is continuing to make exceptional progress. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia will bring attention to the country’s progress and highlight the necessary changes.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Namibia

  1. Life Expectancy in Namibia is Improving: The CIA World Fact Book rates the average life expectancy for Namibians at 64.4 years, ranking the country 189th worldwide. This is a giant increase from the previous life expectancy rate of 53.5 years in 2005.
  2. Infant Mortality in Namibia is Improving: Coinciding with the steadily increasing life expectancy is the steadily decreasing infant mortality rate. According to the World Bank with data going back to 1967, the infant mortality rate has halved, going from a staggering 62.6 deaths per 1,000 births down to 31.8 deaths per 1,000 births. This is in line with countries that share a similar history to Namibia, like South Africa, which has an infant mortality rate of 28.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Both of these countries still trail behind other nations within the continent, like Egypt, which has an infant mortality rate of 18.8 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Namibian Economy is Improving: There is a strong correlation between Namibia’s continually improving social and medical situation and its continued economic prosperity. According to the World Bank, the country’s GDP has more than quadrupled from the 1980s to today jumping from $2.4 billion in 1980 to an impressive $14.5 billion in 2018. Namibia continues to improve economically and was the top emerging market economy in Africa in 2013. It is also important to note that there have been continued efforts to distribute the wealth that the country is coming into. In 1990, after Namibia had gained its independence, it had the highest levels of income inequality in Africa. After policy changes, however, income inequality has significantly decreased.
  4. Social Justice Has Helped Namibia Prosper: Similar to South Africa, Namibia has a long and unfortunate history of apartheid. Apartheid prevented black Namibians from having any political rights and restricted social and economic freedom. It was not until the 1990s that Namibia gained its independence. Namibia’s large population’s roadblocks resulted in the before mentioned wealth inequality. However, once everyone received an equal footing and the Namibian Government looked at the entire population rather than a small few, the poverty rate decreased from 53 percent to 23 percent.
  5. Health Care in Namibia is Not Consistent: As Namibia has continued to improve, so has its health care. There are currently both public and private health care options with 85 percent of the population having the former. There is, however, a severe discrepancy in the service provided between private and public health care. Public hospitals are understaffed and offer limited services. The government has expressed its awareness of these issues and commitment to solving them. Its commitment is outlined in the National Health Policy Framework 2010–2020 and it is implementing efforts to grow the government budget line for health.
  6. Namibians Suffer From Preventable Diseases: Similar to many African countries, the impoverished sectors of Namibia are suffering from preventable diseases, but that is not to say that there have not been major improvements. The country has eliminated neonatal tetanus and the African Regional Certification Commission recognizes it as polio-free. This is due to the Government’s intense focus on fixing these issues. The Namibian Government has even decreased the number of malaria cases by 97 percent in just a decade.
  7. HIV is on the Decline in Namibia: One of many countries suffering from an HIV epidemic, Namibia is thankfully showing improvement. A report published by the Namibia Statistics Agency showed that the new infection rate had decreased from 14 per 1,000 adults to four per 1,000 adults. The same report stated that “as with the fight against extreme poverty, it is possible that a continuation in this effort can lead to zero new infections in the country by 2030.”
  8. Climate Has an Impact on Namibia: According to the World Health Organization, climate change and environmental safety are two major issues facing Namibia. Droughts, floods and disease outbreaks highlight the need for better planning and coordination as well as the importance of attending to environmental health as a preventative method when considering social, economic and cultural progress. Groups all over Namibia dedicate themselves to different issues within the larger context. Two of those groups are Namibia Nature Foundation, which is committed to conservation, and the Africa Drought Conference, which is part of the Government’s efforts to address the drought issue.
  9. Namibia is Rapidly Urbanizing: Urbanization has long been a sign of prosperity, but mass urbanization presents challenges. In Namibia, there are constantly high unemployment rates stemming in part from rapid urbanization. A staggering 34 percent of the total labor force, which mostly affects youth and women, do not have employment. This has been contributing to a growing number of poor who lack access to food and other social services.
  10. Namibia Has a Food Problem: Although Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still faces many problems including poverty and malnutrition. Namibia only produces about 40 percent of food consumed and is very reliant on imports. The limiting of access to food leads to price fluctuations harming up to 28 percent of Namibian families. The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) is just one of the many groups trying to improve the quality and access to nutrition. It also has an increased focus on sustainability.

Some have labeled Namibia one of the most promising countries in Africa because of its increasing social, cultural and economic status. One, however, cannot ignore that there is still a lot of room for progress, especially when looking at the less privileged groups in the country. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia highlight all the good that has taken place and should pose some insight into the future.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Flickr