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Namibia, 7 December 2016: Graça Machel and UNICEF Regional Director in joint advocacy to support nutrition and child rights initiatives

7 December 2016 – Global Child Rights Advocate, Mrs. Graça Machel and UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms. Leila Pakkala, are in Namibia to lend support to Government’s on-going efforts to reduce malnutrition among children and accelerate children’s rights realization.

During their three day visit, Mrs. Machel and Ms. Pakkala will meet with top Government officials, Members of Namibia’s National Assembly, Civil Society Organizations, UN Agencies and development partners, to strategize on how to increase investment towards nutrition as a way to ensure better returns on all development goals. Discussions will also focus on how to strengthen multi-sectoral partnerships in response to the barriers to good nutrition; education and early childhood development, as well as setting up and enforcing legal frameworks to enhance better nutrition in the country.

“Namibia’s successes and gains in child survival and in the fight against malnutrition, are a result of the ongoing partnerships we have with UN Agencies, Civil Society players and prominent child rights champions,” said Rt. Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia. “This visit of both Mrs. Machel and Ms. Pakkala is therefore a welcome reinforcement of the Government’s on-going efforts to reduce the harmful impact of undernutrition on the health and social development of Namibia’s children and to find common solutions to the challenge.”

Malnutrition causes irreversible damage to the physical and mental development of the child. A child affected by malnutrition, especially in the first 1000 days of life will not reach their full physical and intellectual potential in future. Namibia has therefore strengthened efforts to reduce the multiple social and economic inequalities which influence the condition.

Commendable strides have been made in Namibia to reduce deaths and illness due to common childhood illnesses, including malnutrition. Under 5 deaths have been brought down from 4,200 per year in 1990 to less than 3,000 in 2013, while maternal mortality ratio has declined from 449 per 100,000 live births to 385 per 100,000 live births over the same period.

More than 84 per cent of the population has access to safe drinking water, a key intervention to reduce incidence of diarrhoea due to consumption of contaminated water. The percentage of underweight children has declined from 17 per cent in 2006 to 13 per cent in 2013, while stunting prevalence has also declined from 29 per cent to 26 per cent.

“As we celebrate the achievements made for our children and their families, we must not forget that the very real impact that malnutrition continues to have across Africa. Many children, particularly those in rural and drought prone areas, those affected by HIV, or who those who come from income constrained households, continue to bear the brunt of malnutrition, a condition which can be prevented and managed,” said Mrs. Machel.

The visit by Mrs. Machel and Ms. Pakkala is a follow-up to the 2012 visit of Mrs. Machel to Namibia, whereby Government reiterated willingness and commitment to heighten cooperation and partnership to fight malnutrition. The visit also builds on to the continued collaboration between the Government of Namibia; the |Namibian Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN) and UNICEF to sustain gains in child health and nutrition and find common solutions to resolve the outstanding issues.

Since the 2012 visit, UNICEF has supported the Government of Namibia through the engagement with other SADC countries to devise policies and programmes to effectively scale up nutrition. Namibia has also continued its active involvement in the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) global movement to improve maternal and child nutrition. Through this engagement, Namibia is now well recognized beyond the borders of Namibia in its efforts to respond to malnutrition.

“It is UNICEF’s duty and commitment to ensure that all children, everywhere are protected from the threats and impact of malnutrition,” said Ms. Leila Pakkala. “We shall continue to extend our unwavering support towards Government actions to prevent and respond to malnutrition through resource mobilization, development of partnerships for children and through effective community engagement.”

The visit of Mrs. Machel and Ms. Pakkala comes at a time when Mrs. Machel has been appointed as an Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocate by the United Nations’, to help promote action for the achievement of the SDGs, which were adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015.


About Graça Machel Trust
The Graça Machel Trust is an advocacy organization that works across the continent to drive positive change across women’s and children’s rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed. By using our convening power the Trust seeks to amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; and promote women’s contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa. To find out more about our work and programmes, please visit:

Follow us on Twitter: @G_MachelTrust and Facebook: Graça Machel Trust

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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For further information, please contact:
Rhingo Mutambo, Office of the Prime Minister, on Cell: +264 813607071 or email

Ms Judy Matjila, UNICEF Chief of Communications; Cell +264 811275963 or email;

Rosemary Viljoen; Communications Director, The Graça Machel Trust; Tel:+27 11 325 0501/9 or email



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