Country overview

Country Overview


Working Towards Development

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© UNICEFNamibia/2010/Tony Figueira


Namibia has made significant progress since Independence towards improving human and social development through its Vision 2030, which aims to achieve “A prosperous and industrialized Namibia, developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability.”

The country is strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its progress has generally been good. Many of the national, regional and international development targets, including some MDGs that are unlikely to be met, are reflective of deep-seated structural issues, including the legacy of apartheid and human resource capacity constraints.

MDG1 - Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Social development has not kept pace with economic development. Given the high unemployment and lack of progress on a number of child indicators, the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009/10 is likely to show limited progress towards achieving MDG 1. According to an assessment of the 2003/2004 NHIES, 43.3% of children live in poverty, with little difference in poverty between orphans (45.3%) and non-orphaned children (42.9%).  Poverty is concentrated in rural areas, certain language groups and large families.

MDG2 - Achieve universal primary education

With MDG 2 Namibia has reported net primary school enrolment of 98.3%, but without consistent calculation formulae across the years, it is hard to assess whether there has been an increase in enrolment from the 91.3% reported in 2000.

Even with high enrolment, serious inequities exist. Two regions (Kunene and Omaheke), representing the most marginalized groups of Ovahimba and San, have the lowest net attendance ratios of 56.2% and 83.9% at primary level compared to the national average of 90.0%.
  These two regions are also most disadvantaged with regard to repetition rates at grade 1 (32% and 27%) compared to the national average of 12%.

Preliminary results from the third SACMEQ indicate an improvement in acceptable reading and mathematics skills amongst learners nationally. However, significant differences exist in reading and maths achievement amongst learners in isolated/rural schools and urban schools.
  Teachers with tertiary education vary between regions: between 9% (Kavango) and 58% (Erongo). 

The MDG target of 100% survival to secondary school (grade 8 in Namibia) looks daunting, with the 2008 rates of 79% for girls and 76% for boys showing very limited improvement.
  Education remains a major priority for the government and the Minister of Education is taking steps to improve access to quality basic education for all children, including strengthening the efficiency of the significant financial resources allocated to education.

- Promote gender equality and empower women

Progress towards achieving MDG3 is being made, but with mixed results.  The new Parliament saw a decrease from 33% to 25% of seats held by women.  The percentage of women of working age who are unemployed stands at 58% compared to 44% of men.  However, the 2015 target of equal proportion of male and females in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector is likely to be met.

Data from 2009 indicates that per 100 boys there are 97 girls in primary school and 115 girls in secondary school. A new Gender Policy has been developed along with a National Plan of Action on Gender-Based Violence.

Poverty levels are highest among female-headed households with one or more children and those living in a rural area.
  Currently 41% of households are female-headed, yet they only receive 29% of total income.

MDG4 and MDG5
- Reduce child mortality / Improve maternal health

Achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 remains a challenge for Namibia.
  Infant (46/1,000), child (69/1,000) and maternal (449/100,000) mortality rates did not improve between the 2000 and 2006 Demographic and Household Survey (DHS).

Preventable (or easily treatable) causes such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malnutrition together account for over half of U5 (under 5) deaths.
Under-nutrition poses considerable costs to human health and economic productivity in Namibia. Almost 30 per cent of children under-five are stunted, 17 per cent are underweight, and 8 per cent are wasted. The coverage gap (child deprivation index) for the lowest quintile is 36% while that of the highest wealth quintile is 18%. The 4 poorest quintile have an under 5 mortality above 70/ 1,000 compared with 29/ 1,000 for the richest quintile.

Whilst the maternal mortality rate has increased, Namibia does demonstrate some very positive indicators in relation to maternal health:
  nearly 95% of pregnant women receive antenatal care from a health professional, and over 81% give birth in a health facility with skilled attendants. The Government has developed a national Road Map for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Morbidity and Mortality, which aims to achieve universal access to comprehensive quality maternal and neonatal health care.

- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases

Some progress towards meeting MDG 6 has been made on combating malaria with a prevalence of 2.9%. With an adult HIV prevalence of approximately 13.1 per cent in 2009 Namibia is ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest infection levels in the world. An estimated 178,000 people are living with HIV in Namibia, among which some 14,000 children below the age of 15. The 2010 National HIV Sentinel Survey showed an increase of HIV prevalence among pregnant women from 17.8% in 2008 to 18.8% in 2010.  Whilst the HIV prevalence rates have decreased among young pregnant women aged 15-19 from 12 per cent in 2000 to 6.6 per cent in 2010, the distribution of new infections shows the continued vulnerability of young girls. An estimated 73 per cent of new infections in the age group 15-19 years are among young girls and only 27 per cent in boys. In the age group 20-24 year old, girls account for 62 per cent of new infections.  The National Strategic Framework (NSF) for HIV and AIDS prioritises prevention, with a target of new infection reduction of 50% by 2015/16. While the prevalence among pregnant women between urban and rural areas is similar, there are dramatic differences across the regions of the country.

Significant progress has been made in treatment, with over 75,000 people on antiretrovirals by March 2010, representing coverage of 90 per cent.
This has resulted in dramatic reductions in hospital admissions due to HIV- related diseases as well as improved health and survival rates for people living with HIV.

- Ensure environmental sustainability

Namibia is on target to reach MDG7 on sustainable access to safe drinking water. Access to basic sanitation remains low (31% national average). The country maintains its commitments with a target and resources to achieve 62% coverage by 2015.

The historical legacy of Namibia is a cross-cutting factor that affects every aspect of society. It is something that must be taken into account when judging Namibia’s success in meeting national and MDGs. That said, it is in the best interest of Namibia to take ownership of its own destiny by meeting these emerging issues head on.



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