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Electricity Coverage Rising in Africa
It is hard to imagine life without electricity. In the American standard of living, electricity pervades every aspect of a person’s life, from food storage to entertainment and everything in between. In Africa, however, only 30 percent of people have access to electricity.

Power Africa

Power Africa is a USAID agency that aims to provide people in Africa with access to electricity. They plan to make 60 new electricity connections and generate 30,000 more megawatts (MW) of electricity across the continent by 2030. The goal is to do this by harnessing the sun, wind, lake water, and natural gas to power rural areas that do not have access to electricity.

Power Africa tracks its progress on various projects by tracking business transactions with African power companies. For example, in 2016, they made a deal with the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Department of State to provide $30 million worth of financing of 32 renewable energy projects in 10 countries in Africa. With Power Africa’s help, 90 business transactions have been completed and 25 of Africa’s 55 countries now have access to some form of electricity. Examples from Power Africa actions are described in a text below.

Mali

Although the demand for electricity in Mali is currently greater than the supply, that does not mean that there is no supply at all. Electricity in Mali currently comes from mostly hydraulic and thermal energy (55 and 44 percent, respectively). Power Africa plans to help Mali produce an additional 80 MW of hydroelectric energy, more than 300 MW from biomass, and unlimited MW from the sun.

Electricity usage has already gone up in Mali. Major mining companies increased their energy consumption by 136 MW (189 percent) between 2008 and 2011. In 2016, the government passed a law mandating partnerships between public and private electric companies in order to increase MW production. The ultimate goal is to make an additional 20,000 MW of energy and distribute it to 50 million people by 2020.

Namibia

Currently, Namibia gets most of its electricity from power grids in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other nearby countries. However, electricity demand in these countries is way higher than supply, forcing Namibia to find ways to generate its own electricity. As of 2008, Namibia can only generate 393 MW from 3 stations, while the national demand is 533 MW.

One of these stations, the Ruacana power station, is dependent on the flow of water from the Kunene River, which flows out of Angola. Another station, the coal-run Eck power station, is costly to operate and maintain. Eck, along with the oil-based Paratus power station, is only used for short-term peaks in electricity demand.

For the time being, Namibia still needs to have its electricity needs met by its neighbors. The Caprivi link is a transmission line that connects Namibia’s power grid to those in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This provides the country with an additional 600 MW, fulfilling Namibia’s electricity needs. In 2007, Namibia consumed 3.6 TWh of electricity.

Tanzania

Most of Tanzania’s electricity (90 percent) comes from biomass. This has resulted in mass deforestation and, thus, is far from ideal for the ecosystem. Only 18.4 percent of Tanzanian citizens have access to electricity in any form. Currently, the country is financially incapable of extending the power grid into all rural areas.

In 1975, the government founded the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO). TANESCO has a nationwide monopoly on electricity production and distribution. However, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM) is trying to end this monopoly by allowing companies to get licenses to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. The Rural Energy Agency (REA) is slowly getting electricity into rural areas. With these services, the government aims to make electricity available to everyone in Tanzania, and one can see electricity coverage rising from their efforts.

Conclusion

In the modern day, electricity seems like a basic ingredient for life that it seems like everyone should have it. The people in Power Africa agree and we can see electricity coverage rising in Africa as a result of their efforts. Mali is making more energy from more sources than ever, Namibia is starting to make its own electricity, and Tanzania is spreading electricity out as far as it can. Africa is becoming more and more electrified, reaching the ultimate goal- provide access to electricity for everyone on the continent.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in NamibiaNamibia is a large, sparsely populated country on the south-west coast of Africa. It has enjoyed relative stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a struggle with the South African government. Unfortunately, the water quality in Namibia has been an issue for some time, with many avoiding the usage of tap water for drinking purposes and opting for bottled water instead.

In some cities, tap water is contaminated; in others, it may be safe to drink. In cities such as Keetmanshoop and Tsumeb, it is said that all water is considered contaminated and that it is recommended to bring all tap water to a rolling boil if you wish to drink, brush your teeth or make ice cubes with it. Otherwise, it is recommended to buy capped bottled water from reputable sellers.

In cities like Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek, the water is considered as ‘may be safe to drink’ because the water is chlorinated. This means that locals can drink water from the tap without issue. Despite this, many still choose to avoid the water due to instances of some small strains of local E. coli being present in the water. This bacteria can cause diarrhea to new visitors.

As a result of water contamination, retail chains in Namibia, such as Pick ‘n Pay, Spar and Fruit and Veg, to make significant profits selling bottled water to consumers hesitant to drink the tap water.

However, in some shops, like the Pick n’ Play in Windhoek, tap water is labeled as ‘mineral water’ and sold to the consumers unknowingly. There are very little safety measures in place to protect the consumers from being misled by the retail shops that sell bottled water in Namibia.

While explaining the water quality in Namibia and how tap water is treated in cities, Maximilian Herzog of Omaruru Beverages, a leading bottled water company in the local market, said, “nobody controls water quality at the point of use – the tap at home.” This means that from the treatment point, water can flow kilometers through unclean and old pipelines. Water remains one of the most difficult products to bottle and transport through pipelines due to accidental contamination issues. Furthermore, high chlorine levels and unbalanced mineral contents in tap water lead to unpleasant tastes.

Herzog maintains that it is important that the consumer is clearly informed with appropriate labeling and packaging on what they intend to buy, whether it be mineral water or purified water.

In order for this issue to be addressed, it is imperative for the National Standards Institute (NSI) to create regulations for bottled water sales. This will ensure that consumers are no longer misled or in danger of drinking contaminated tap water. Until then, be aware of the water quality in Namibia.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in NamibiaAs the thirty-fourth largest country in the world, Namibia is home just 2.4 million people. While there was an 11 percent decline in poverty from 2001 to 2011, almost 600,000 people were still living in poverty. According to data from 2015, about 26.9 percent of the total population lived in poverty and 16.9 percent had HIV/AIDS. While poverty is caused by a variety of factors, here are three of the causes of poverty in Namibia.

  1. Agricultural and environmental factors
    Seventy percent of the population depends on agriculture. The country has fourteen regions, with many rural, agricultural regions. The agricultural regions do not fare well and the people there have had to deal with severe droughts as it is very arid. At these times, people cannot grow the food that they need to sell and to eat. Hunger and poverty are connected in this specific instance, showing that other issues are byproducts of poverty.In 2008, SKILLSHARE International began working with local organizations to create the Sustainable Livelihoods Project for Rural Communities in Namibia. Reports show that in order to reduce poverty, the country must understand subsistence farming. Some experts see this as the key to finding a way to reduce poverty because it affects so many lives in urban and rural areas.
  2. Socioeconomic factors
    The gap between the rich and the poor is seen through the separation of the northern and southern regions of Namibia. Large amounts of wealth are concentrated in the hands of the few. The Gini coefficient for Namibia, which measures inequality, shows that inequality is still pretty high at 0.6 (perfect equality is 0).Seventy percent of personal income taxes come from the top 10 percent of the population. This small group at the top has a lot more opportunity than those at the bottom who struggle to farm the arid land. There is a divide between the rural and urban areas. A large amount of the population lives in rural areas, while the few in the urban areas have more opportunities for jobs and economic success.Another socioeconomic factor is that the poor have little access to public services, which is something on which the Namibian government is starting to focus more. With more access to education and sanitation, the poor will be better off.To fight the causes of poverty in Namibia, the government started to change its fiscal policies. According to the World Bank, the fiscal policies adopted by Namibia have been successful thus far in reducing poverty.

    The World Bank described the policy as “a progressive social benefits and tax system,” which basically means that it creates higher taxes for the rich in order to provide the poor with more social benefits. This money can be used for healthcare, education, and for transfers, which give the poor money to use for living. The next step for the fiscal policies is to promote job creation to help the poor find employment.

  3. Health factors
    Namibia’s maternal mortality is 200 deaths per 100,000 births, and its neonatal mortality is 19 deaths per 1,000 births. Nonprofit organizations like Synergy work on reducing maternal and infant mortality. They also want to increase youth employment and assist agricultural growth in Namibia.

Over the past twenty years, poverty is in decline in the country of Namibia. But, the situation is far from perfect and there remain many causes of poverty in Namibia. Through the continued work of the government and effective aid organizations, more of the vulnerable communities in Namibia will be able to find a path to prosperity.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in NamibiaLocated in Southwestern Africa, adjacent to Botswana, Zambia, Angola and South Africa, the Republic of Namibia is an arid and sparsely-populated nation of 2 million people. The country faces one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world of approximately 13 percent, a chronic malnourishment rate of 20 percent and fluctuating levels of water supply.

Needless to say, the situation begs the question of how to help people in Namibia.

Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious, many charities based in Namibia work to improve the situation of the country’s population. For example, Books for Africa is a non-profit that provides books and educational materials to 48 countries across the continent. “Books for Africa is a simple idea, but its impact is transformative. For us, literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope.” says former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Another method useful in answering the question of how to help people in Namibia is to support DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) Namibia, a not-for-profit organization based in Namibia that empowers local communities in a variety of ways. Some of DAPP’s initiatives include agricultural training networks and camps, creating programs responsible for combatting HIV/AIDS and increasing the availability of contraceptives across the nation. As an organization based in Namibia, DAPP is in a unique position to understand, identify and tackle national issues on a first-hand basis.

Finally, wildlife conservation is a key factor in understanding how to help people in Namibia. Preserving the country’s wildlife is indispensable to maintaining a steady tourism industry as many people come to the country to visit its wildlife and safari parks. Naankuse is a nonprofit based in Namibia that works to preserve the country’s rich and colorful variety of not only wildlife but indigenous cultures and people as well. Naankuse specifically focuses on three key areas: wildlife conservation, the preservation of national landscapes and support of rural communities. Supporting Naankuse will enable the country to protect its most valuable assets to one of the economy’s most valuable industries.

These are just a few examples of ways to get involved in helping to boost development and reduce poverty in Namibia.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

Why Namibia Is PoorNamibia is a country located in the southwestern part of Africa, just north of South Africa, and has one of the largest income gaps between the rich and the poor in the world.

There are a few reasons why Namibia is poor. Many of the causes stem from the social and economic imbalances of the apartheid system that was introduced in 1964 under South African rule. This resulted in a deep divide in Namibian society. Much of the black African population was denied proper access to basic productive resources and infrastructure, while white settlers had exclusive access to vast areas of land as well as a tremendous amount of support from the government for their farming.

Some of the poorest people are located in the northern regions of Namibia. The majority of its indigenous population is located in the north, and many of the poorest households are those headed by women. This amounts to around 43 percent of all the households located in rural areas, which are the most likely to be dependent on farming.

These families’ dependency on farming is problematic due to a veterinary cordon fence that runs east to west across the country south of the Angola border, used to block the southern movement of livestock diseases. However, this fence also divides the poorer north, where their primary source of income comes from farming, from the richer south with its commercial ranchers.

Severely poor people in Namibia are those who are not able to spend at least N$389.30 per month on necessities to live, according to the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure. If they cannot spend more than N$520.80 per month, they are just considered poor. The average life expectancy in the country is just 62 years, and is even lower in marginalized communities.

The government of the country has been committed to solving the problems of Namibia’s poverty and large income gap. They have adopted quite a few policies since their independence and have noticed how poverty has endangered the social harmony of their country. A few plans for addressing these issues include Vision 2030 as well as other national development plans.

Hopefully, in the coming years, the people of Namibia will continue to make strides in combating the reasons why Namibia is poor and will be able to close the income gap.

Sara Venusti

Photo: Unsplash

Social Media and Poverty Reduction
The U.N. first asked “how can the international community best harness the power of media…to educate and transform?” in a 2017 conference. Although this requires a complicated answer, social media and poverty reduction can be connected by harnessing the power of information to foster development in a technologically advancing world.

The link is clear: the U.N. recognizes that there are many “opportunities for the media to play a strategic role for eradicating poverty.” This rests on the media’s ability to inform the public about poverty, in many cases by disseminating information through the voices of who have truly experienced it. This provides “an inclusive platform and an open forum to share the views and concerns of people living in vulnerable situations.”

 

Media and Poverty Reduction: Syrian Civil War

 

But what does this look like firsthand? When a video of a young Syrian boy named Omran Daqneesh covered in rubble surfaced in 2016, millions of people disseminated the video through their social media channels hours after its publication. The New York Times called the video “an image of civil war,” as for many it humanized the violent events taking place far from home.

Sharing these shocking images can spur quick action. A different image, that of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned while leaving Syria for Greece, gained similar attention. Sharing it via social media had real outcomes: MercyCorps garnered $2.3 million for Syrian refugees in one month, compared to the $4.5 million raised in four years before.

The information-sharing that took place with these images spurred discussions about poverty and war on social media. In many cases, the power in information-sharing means that “the media can play a major role in developing public understanding of economic, social, and environmental issues: the three pillars of sustainable development,” according to the U.N.

 

Governments Utilize Connection Between Media and Poverty Reduction

 

Many organizations and governments are harnessing the power in social media and poverty reduction. Rwandan health minister Agnes Binagwaho provides an example with #Ministermondays. Every other Monday, Binagwaho opens a discussion via Twitter for people to voice their concerns about health in the country. Listening to real voices, she is able to craft policies using the experiences she absorbs through social media.

Others are doing similar work. An online social media platform called Digital Green provides farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia a network to discuss best practices for farming. Similarly, the World Bank Finances app ensures that sustainable development initiatives put funding into the correct hands, preventing fraud via social media.

Unlike other media sources, social media gives a voice to those who have lived in poverty by creating public platforms to spread experience. In this way, the media “affords individuals and communities the possibility to become active in the development process” by using social media platforms as safe spaces for discussion, according to the University of Namibia. Over time, this is generating “long-term suitability and sustainability” for poverty reduction.

Social media and poverty reduction works for other forms of development. Success for the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals largely rests on the power of the media, according to the U.N., based on its ability to instigate change with credible information sharing. And media hides other tools for poverty eradication; the University of Namibia explains that it also “creates a platform for non-violent discussion and issue resolution” to prevent conflict.

Social media and poverty reduction can be linked through holding guilty parties accountable for their actions. An established social media source known as I Paid a Bribe is doing just this; it creates a space to safely expose corruption in developing countries by text or email. Stories are shared without fear of retaliation, exposing illegal actions and fighting corruption.

 

Media and Poverty Reduction: Shortcomings

 

Even so, media does not always work in favor of poverty reduction; many argue that poverty is often given little coverage time via traditional media sources. For example, a study of three prominent U.S. nightly news sources found that in 14 months, an average of only 2.7 seconds in every 22-minute program mentioned poverty. And not all people are able to access social media channels; ending the digital divide that leaves four billion people without internet can harness the power of social media to share stories for reducing poverty.

In some cases, “the knowledge and experiences of people living in poverty are often undervalued” in the media, and “solutions to their own problems are ignored.” This can improperly portray real world experiences. Giving little recognition to those who have lived in poverty, according to the U.N., ultimately plays a role in distorting public perception and negatively influencing policies about poverty reduction.

Despite barriers, the U.N. explains that “the time has come for all policy actors to recognize and support the vital contribution of the media” in reducing poverty. Developing the tools that social media provides to reduce poverty, when done effectively, is gaining traction for development today.

And although Omran Daqneesh’s video alone can not end a civil war, his impact is igniting progress for sustainable development. In a world like today, change stems from diverse voices, making way for progress that was impossible only decades ago.

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in NamibiaSitting on the west coast of southern Africa, the nation of Namibia has enjoyed decades of stability and freedom after its independence from South Africa in 1990. Although Namibia has existed as a peaceful nation for years, like every country it faces health challenges. Common diseases in Namibia range from HIV/AIDS to water-borne infections; however, over the years significant progress has been made in combating these diseases.

The leading cause of death in Namibia is HIV/AIDS, which killed about 4,300 people in 2016. With over 230,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS, it is also the most common disease in Namibia. However, there has been a significant drop in HIV/AIDS deaths in Namibia since 2000, decreasing from 403 deaths (per 100,000) in 2000 to 159.1 (per 100,000) in 2012.

With a dispersed population of 2.4 million, most of Namibia’s inhabitants are rural dwellers, which means they have limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation. This puts the population at high risk for major infectious diseases. These are diseases such as malaria, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever, which account for about 8.5 percent of deaths in Namibia.

Namibia is also struggling with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, with heart disease accounting for 8.1 percent of deaths and diabetes accounting for 4.3 percent of deaths. In Namibia, obesity is also a problem, with the adult prevalence rate rising to 16.8 percent in 2016. These health complications are continuing to rise on the list of causes of death.

Fortunately, Namibia has shown significant progress in its health status. From 2000-2012, the life expectancy for both sexes increased by 9 years. Also, lower respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, and diarrheal diseases have significantly decreased as causes of death.

These common diseases in Namibia are wide-ranging, but improving over time with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Although HIV/AIDS is still a major problem in Namibia, many of the infected are able to manage and live with the disease. The progress made in the population’s health is remarkable and continues to improve.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Namibia
Namibia is a country on the coast of the southern tip of Africa, and since 1990, has gained independence from South Africa and established a representative democratic republic. Human rights in Namibia continue to be an issue for children seeking a safe education, as the nation has yet to commit to the Safe Schools Declaration.

While one in four children in conflict zones around the world get denied the right to an education, much of the problem is due to the use of schools by government security forces and non-state armed groups.

These armed groups have used schools and other educational institutions as military bases, shelters, weapons caches and outposts. While takeover time can vary from weeks to years, military usage of schools disrupts students’ learning. Additionally, it makes them more vulnerable to attacks from opposing forces or sexual violence caused by the very soldiers who inhabit the school.

In addition to these violations of human rights in Namibia, the use of schools for military purposes also diminishes student attendance and transition to higher levels, as well as permanent school closures.

To protect these children, 64 countries have given their allegiance to the Safe Schools Declaration. An international agreement started in 2015 to provide for the safety and continuation of education throughout times of war. Countries who have joined the declaration have committed to avoiding military usage of educational buildings during periods of conflict, as well as collecting data to investigate and potentially prosecute those in violation.

While Namibia’s neighboring countries, including Angola, South Africa, and Zambia, have all already committed to the Safe Schools Declaration, the nation’s avoidance of the treaty is a cause of major concern for the future of human rights in Namibia.

As children and teachers continue to suffer the consequences of armed forces use of schools in Namibia, a commitment to ending the practice is in immediate need on the part of the nation’s government.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Google

Refugees in NamibiaNamibia is a country in southern Africa with a population of about 2,514,000. The country was formerly a German colony, and then it became a part of South Africa before gaining independence in 1990. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Namibia:

  1. According to the World Bank, 1,737 refugees officially registered in Namibia in 2015. The official number of refugees in Namibia is lower than neighboring countries; Angola, for example, has 15,555, and Zambia has 26,447. However, according to the Namibian government, the World Bank’s count of the number of refugees in Namibia is incorrect. Many refugees and asylum seekers have moved from designated refugee camps to other parts of Namibia. The government estimates that there were actually more than 6,000 refugees in Namibia in 2015.
  2. From 1998 to 2001, the number of documented refugees in Namibia skyrocketed from 3,820 to 30,885. The majority of these refugees came across Namibia’s northern border from Angola, where fighting between the Angolan government and rebel group UNITA was taking place.
  3. The official number of refugees in Namibia peaked at 30,885 in 2001. Since that time, that number has decreased drastically. Namibia saw a slight uptick in the number of officially stateless people from 2007 to 2010, and again in 2013.
  4. Namibia’s Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana described the current state of refugees in Namibia to New Era, a government-owned media outlet in Namibia. “Roughly 80 percent of these refugees are Congolese. A few are from Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and other countries, with about 30 asylum seekers arriving at Namibian borders every month,” she said.
  5. The Congolese refugees in Namibia have left behind a state of constant war. In 1996, Rwanda invaded the DRC in pursuit of the perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide. This initial conflict destabilized the eastern DRC, and over the last two decades, multiple paramilitaries have warred with each other and the Congolese government for control of the region and its resources. This conflict, sometimes dubbed “Africa’s World War,” is the main source of refugees in Namibia.
  6. After 23 years, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees ended its campaign to serve refugees in Namibia in 2015. Despite the government’s claim that there were more than 6,000 refugees, the U.N. contends that the number has dropped below 5,000. This, as well as Namibia’s upgrade to a middle-income nation at the time, were the U.N.’s justifications for its pull-out.
  7. Many of the refugees in Namibia live at the Osire camp—a specifically designated area for refugees in Namibia. However, there have been mixed accounts about the quality of conditions at the camp. In 2009, a local human rights organization smuggled 41 people out of the camp after they had received death threats. The refugees were denied access at the border of Botswana and remained in “no man’s land” between Botswana and Namibia.
  8. Although the U.N. stopped direct refugee operations, the international union continues to support refugees in Namibia by lending resources from its regional office in Pretoria, South Africa.
  9. Namibia has begun resettling its refugees in other countries that will take them, known as “third countries.” In 2016, Namibia resettled more than 200 refugees to other countries, citing a lack of ability to provide for them.
  10. The U.N. conducted research on refugees at the Osire camp to test for HIV; the organization also provided the refugees with information on how to avoid contracting the virus. The program was a moderate success, as it successfully educated refugees at the camp about HIV/AIDS. However, the data also shows that the percentage of refugees at the Osire camp with HIV/AIDS exceeds the percentage of those from the surrounding areas (38.3 percent compared to 30.2 percent).

These facts about refugees in Namibia demonstrate that despite a lack of statistical clarity, the nation is still working to accommodate those in need.

David Mclellan

Photo: Flickr


Gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia is a young country struggling with an issue that plagues many other surrounding nations: poverty. With half of its federal budget spent on social programs, the government of Namibia is actively fighting against the unfair distribution of wealth.

To combat the poverty rate, Namibia introduced many programs to benefit the poor. These programs include pensions, supplemental security income, foster care grants and revenue tax cuts for the poor instead of taxing the wealthier citizens. But the question remains: in the 27 years since its independence, what’s the outcome of Namibia’s fiscal policies?

Vision 2030, taken on in 2004, is Namibia’s guiding development strategy. The main grounds of Vision 2030 fights to end poverty in the country including, but not limited to, the fields of health and development.

In June 2017, the World Bank published a report that gives insight into the long term effects of these efforts. One statistic indicates that poverty fell at a staggering rate of 59 percent in 1992 to 15 percent in 2010. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a rate of about six percent between 2010 to 2014. The implementation of new programs, such as Vision 2030 and government subsidies, attribute to this decline in poverty.

The report notes that human development has improved greatly due to increasing the citizens’ subsidies. The developments include a rural water subsidy and two housing subsidies; the Build Together Program and the National Housing Enterprise. The rural water subsidy reaches the poorest citizens in dire need of water. The housing subsidies are only available up to urban areas.

The progressive income taxes, subsidies and government investment in social programs gave Namibia’s fiscal policies the kick start it needed to begin the long-term journey out of poverty. Though these policies have undoubtedly reduced poverty, the economy must create more jobs for the 34 percent of unemployed citizens.

This can be done by investing more in activities that provide unskilled workers a place to harness their potential in the workplace and in their lives as a whole.

Vicente Vera

Photo: Flickr