Graça Machel Joins Namibia To Scale Up Nutrition In The Country
Namibia, Windhoek 20 November - As the world celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the convention on the rights of the child, Global Children's Advocate and Child Rights Advocate, Mrs. Graça Machel arrived in Namibia today to support the Government and its partners to accelerate efforts to scale up nutrition and reduce stunting in the country, currently at almost 30% among children below the age of five.
Graça Machel’s visit comes at a time when Namibia has seen remarkable progress in the areas of health, education, access to clean water and protection since independence. Nearly 95 per cent of pregnant women are accessing ante-natal care and more than 80 per cent of them received delivery services by professionals; virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV can be achieved in a few years; high primary school enrolment rates of over 95%; the country is on target to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of access to safe drinking water; and since the introduction of birth registration facilities at hospitals and health facilities, the rate of birth registration increased from 30 per cent to 60 per cent between 2008 and 2011.
The visit, hosted by the Government of Namibia in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will highlight the urgent investments still needed to continue to reduce stunting (chronic malnutrition), poverty and inequalities facing the country.
“I am very pleased to be in Namibia to learn about progress made to realize the rights of Children to health and nutrition, education, and protection. I am keen to lend my support to accelerate Namibia’s efforts, especially in improving the well-being of children through promoting good nutrition” Namibia’s progress has been remarkable on economic growth and several social development fronts, but there are still disparities and high rates of chronic malnutrition (stunting) among children under 5.” Said Mrs. Machel on why she felt her three day visit was very important.
“As Namibia’s Government, we are committed to accelerate our efforts and mobilise more resources to ensure that we meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and make malnutrition history in Namibia”. “We also know that we cannot do it alone. This is why Mrs Machel’s visit to Namibia is very critical to our work as Government, and as the Namibia Alliance for improved nutrition (NAFIN) to uplift our strategic advocacy towards improved nutrition in our country” said Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia Nahas Angula, also Chairperson of NAFIN.
Mrs. Machel’s visit to Namibia comes against a background of many positive strides made by the Government of Namibia and its partners to improve the lives of children, women and their families. Namibia has made some progress in fulfilling the rights of children and women and towards achieving a number of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but overall human development still appears to be on the long term decline. Social development has not kept pace with economic development. According to an assessment of the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (2009/10), 34% of children live in poverty, a reduction from 43% in 2003/04. The assessment further shows that poverty is concentrated in rural areas, within certain language groups, large families and families with young children.
During her visit, Mrs. Machel, will meet with children, Senior Government leaders, Parliamentarians, civil society organisations and development partners to better understand the situation of children and women in Namibia and lend her support by adding her voice in support of Namibia’s children, in particular by contributing to advocacy and raising awareness on simple solutions available to reduce chronic malnutrition in Namibia. In addition, she will have an opportunity to launch the Nutrition Landscape Analysis Report, which depicts the Nutrition Situation in Namibia.
“Mrs. Machel’s visit is a unique opportunity for Namibia to mobilise strategic alliances for nutrition, share experiences and learn from regional experiences on ways to addressing chronic malnutrition. Her visit further reaffirms that Namibia’s children have a strong ally and advocate who wants to see their rights to health, nutrition, education and protection realized.” Said Micaela Marques de Sousa, UNICEF Representative.“ We welcome Mrs Machel’s support to Namibia, particularly her advocacy efforts joining all of us in scaling up and speeding up nutrition in Namibia.” She added.
Over the years, Mrs. Machel has gained international recognition for her achievements. Her many awards include the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project in 1992 and the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children in 1995. She has received the Inter Press Service’s (IPS) International Achievement Award for her work on behalf of children internationally, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe, amongst others.
Mrs. Machel has served on the boards of numerous international organizations, including the UN Foundation, the Forum of African Women Educationalists, the African Leadership Forum and the International Crisis Group. Amongst her many current commitments, she is a Board Member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Fund (GAVI Fund), Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Panel Member of the Africa Progress Panel, Member of High Level Task Force on Innovative International Finance for Health Systems and Panel Member of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
She is the President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), a not for profit organization she founded in 1994. FDC makes grants to civil society organizations to strengthen communities, facilitate social and economic justice and assist in the reconstruction and development of post war Mozambique.
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