background
namibia
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-the namibian situation
-national policies
-the impact of HIV/AIDS
-orphanages & foster care
-glimpse of namibia


national policies
The National Gender Policy and its accompanying Plan of Action cover a range of issues relevant to OVC, and particularly the girl child, violence against women and children. A National Action Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour has also been drawn up. This legislation is aimed at addressing issues such as children being used by adults to commit crimes, commercial sexual exploitation of children, child trafficking and slavery and very hazardous labour. The National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children harmonises with other national and international efforts to assist OVC in that it has involved recommendations from the Global OVC Partners Forum held in Geneva in October 2003.

the impact of HIV/AIDS
Namibia ranks as one of the five countries in the world most affected by HIV and AIDS. On average, 23% of Namibians aged 15 to 49 are HIV-positive. Young people between the ages of 10 and 24 accounts for nearly 60% of all new infections, and of this 60%, most are women or girls. The costs of the epidemic are staggering. They include the increasing expense of medical care and the loss of workers, parents and children. The number of reported deaths in the age group 15-49 years continues to increase. By 2000, this group accounted for more than 50% of all deaths in hospitals. Young people (10 to 24 years) are estimated to account for up to 60% of all new HIV infections. The impact of HIV and AIDS on orphans and other vulnerable children is compounded by many factors, including:
unemployment;
poverty and food insecurity;
all forms of violence and abuse;
stresses placed on extended family structures and NGO/CBO service providers which become over extended as the number of OVC requiring care and support increases;
information gaps in the management of OVC that lead to a lack of awareness of services and opportunities for OVC and their caregivers;
shortage of capacity, particularly in the form of lay counsellors, social workers to qualify children for state assistance and other programmes, and magistrates to administer child law and to appoint legal guardians;
logistical difficulties in accessing health care in the rural areas where the majority of orphans and other vulnerable children live as a result of the geographically scattered nature of rural populations.

orphanages & foster care
In the last few years the Namibian Government through its Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, has actively phased out formal and informal orphanage-type homes and centres. In the current social services process children that are found to be abused or neglected are often placed in temporary havens or protection facilities, until a suitable foster home can be found. This is usually done by Social Workers through legal court placements. However, the children can only be kept for a maximum period of six months. After six months the case worker relocates the child to a more suitable, permanent placement with family members or in the children’s home. However, the shortage of suitable foster homes has resulted in children having to stay at the haven for longer periods. Sometimes children are returned to the very same homes, from which they were removed in the first place, after Social workers have ensured that the conditions at the child’s original home have improved. According to the policy successful programmes for orphans and other vulnerable children are those that are child-centred, family- and community focused, and respect and protect the rights of the child. Orphans should, to the extent possible, be cared for by appropriate adults in family units through extended family networks, foster fraternities or adoption.

glimpse of namibia
Namibia is situated in southern Africa on the Atlantic coast and borders Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. Germany took control of the area that it called South West Africa in the late 1800s. South African troops ousted the Germans from the area during World War I, and the League of Nations mandated the area to South Africa. Following World War II, the United Nations requested that the territory become a Trusteeship, but South Africa refused to cooperate. In 1966 a Namibian nationalist group, South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), launched a war of independence for the area that became Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a United Nations peace plan for the entire region. Namibia finally gained independence in 1990. It is a member state of the Southern African Development community (SADC), the African Union (AU), the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations.

The Namibian landscape consists primarily of central highlands, of which the highest point is the Brandberg at 2,606 meters (8,550ft). The central plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the west, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. A remarkable strip of land in the north-east, known as the Caprivi Strip is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for the German Empire to access the Zambezi River. The Namibian climate ranges from desert to subtropical, and is generally hot and dry; precipitation is sparse and erratic. The cold, north-flowing Benguela, current accounts for some of the low precipitation. Besides the capital city Windhoek in the centre of the country, other important towns are the ports of Walvis Bay, and Swakopmund, as well as Oshakati, Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Keetmanshoop. Namibia is one of Africa’s most geographically and culturally diverse countries and sparsely populated (approximately 2,2 million people) with an average population density of 2.5 persons per square kilometre. The country’s tiny population is largely scattered through a sprinkling of towns, founded by different peoples (some ancient, some colonial) offering a fascinating insight into a rich variety of cultures.

Between these are vast tracks of pristine wilderness, home to some stunning wildlife and protected as national parks, one can drive for hours through endless plains, enjoying a scenic backdrop of huge mountains and spectacular canyons without meeting another tourist. As the tourism sector gains in importance, it is also increasingly complementing the country’s traditional economic sectors - agriculture, fishing and mining. Yet, despite the clear potential for tourism growth and the opportunities it offers to diversify and enrich the economy, the sector has seen low levels of government investment. The country has enjoyed macroeconomic stability since independence due to the implementation of market-oriented reforms. The country is classified as a lower-middle income country and is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Despite this good economic status the country has the highest Gini coefficient in the world at approximately 0.6 (National Planning Commission, 2006). Namibia’s life expectancy is a rather low 61 years of age, having increased at a snail’s pace from an already low 53 years of age in 1980. Compared to other African countries, Namibia's economy is stable with reasonable growth trends. The Namibian economy grew by 4.2% in 2010, following a 0.7% contraction in 2009. Growth was due primarily to a rapid recovery in diamond and uranium mining activities, but also to credit extension. However, the Namibian economic and social environment is overshadowed by massive structural challenges, notably, very high unemployment, heavy reliance on a few mineral products and deficiencies in water and energy infrastructure, which limit growth potential. While public service delivery has improved, more must be done to address both quality and coverage of basic services, particularity in rural areas. Human resource development remains one of the most important long-term investments to ensure sustainable economic growth that will benefit the majority of the population. Pressure is mounting on the government to reinvigorate efforts towards alleviating poverty and inequality – against the backdrop of extremely high unemployment levels – to ensure future social and political stability in the country.