WWD2017: Namibia uses wastewater

Each year on 22 March, the international community comes together to celebrate the world’s most valuable resource, water. Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface, and this year’s World Water Day (WWD) is dedicated to understanding the management of this precious resource, specifically the importance of wastewater.

Water is a resource that all people need on a daily basis. On the other side of things, all people also create sewage on a daily basis, a fact that is frequently overlooked. For this reason, the importance of wastewater persists, and its importance extrapolates because of on-going problems such as; climate change, environmental factors, population growth, increased urbanization, on-going water mismanagement and faulty water service provision systems.

Wastewater and the new water cycle

Wastewater can be used to Namibia’s advantage, and it importance is substantial due to the fact that that it is interconnected with other sources of water. For this reason, the repercussions of its mismanagement must be considered. With poor management, dangerous and harmful elements can enter the environment and can have devastating impacts on the environment and subsequently have an effect on us as humans (Menges, 2017).

Historically the natural water cycle accounts for wastewater. Through the natural process of precipitation and condensation, water is filtered through soil and creates aquifers, where water is naturally purified. Ground water, river runoff and transpiration from plants and animals causes evaporation and the process repeats itself. However, new factors now play into the water cycle.

Due to urbanisation there is a new water cycle, the urban water cycle. Rainwater and other water sources are caught in dams where the water receives pre-treatment for human consumption. It is then distributed for human consumption where, once used, is collected again. This wastewater is either classified as greywater or blackwater. Greywater is wastewater obtained from water used in bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines, whereas blackwater contains fecal matter and is therefore collected from toilets (Lamb, 2008).

Wastewater receives various treatments making it either ready for human consumption, especially relevant in Namibia, or will safely be reintroduced into the natural cycle. Treatment of waterwater can add essential nutrients that can be exploited for agricultural use. Without the last step there would be severe effects on the environment. Continue reading

A day in her shoes: #WCW Sister Christy

As part of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek’s on-going #WednesdayCelebrateWomen Campaign, UNIC Windhoek got to know Sister Christy, a registered nurse at the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) and #WCW for the month of March, by shadowing her for a day.

Cancer awareness in Namibia is rapidly increasing because of CAN’s effective awareness campaigns which are implemented through the hard work and dedication of its staff. For this reason, a day in Sister Christy shoes starts off early. She says, “I start off by driving the cancer patients to the hospital for treatment.” Continue reading

More can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty – UN expert urges Namibia

WINDHOEK / GENEVA (13 March 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, today commended the Namibian Government for its political determination and vision on how to improve the lives of all Namibians by 2030 and to protect their human rights”, and “urged the Government to deliver on its promises.”

I call on the Government to deploy every effort possible to finalize and put into motion the comprehensive national policy on the rights, care and protection of older people. A dedicated policy on older persons is key to ensuring improved protection of their rights,” the UN Expert said.

She also emphasized that “any policy on older persons has to adopt a human rights-based approach,” and added that the United Nations principles on older persons alongside the core human rights instruments should guide the Government’s efforts in this regard.”

Ageing in Namibia is just beginning to take shape,” the UN Expert noted. While the proportion of older persons has remained somehow constant at around 7 per cent since independence, the projected growth rate of the older population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be faster than that experienced by any other region since 1950. “The challenges associated with an ageing society are not a distant phenomenon,” the UN expert emphasized. “It will result in immense pressure on the care system as a growing number of older persons will be living with chronic diseases and disability.”

Low population density and accelerated levels of urbanization have the potential to erode the traditional family care system. Further investment by the Government in health and care infrastructure is required to provide alternatives to the older persons in rural areas.”

Care can no longer be considered simply a family matter and I call on the Government to step up its effort to revise the Aged Persons Act in order to fully provide for the rights, protection, care and welfare of older people.”

Namibia has come a long way since it gained independence only 27 years ago. It has since enjoyed political stability and steady economic growth and is ranked as an upper middle-income country,” the Independent Expert said. “We owe recognition to these Namibian achievements,” she outlined.

Despite all the efforts, Namibia continues to be among the most unequal countries in the world. “While I acknowledge that poverty levels have been brought down significantly since independence, they remain high for certain parts of the population and certain regions of the country,” the Independent Expert said.

I am also fully aware that some of the inequalities that persist are the legacy of colonial rule and that attitudes do not change overnight,” she added.This does not mean that the existing disparities in income and land distribution are acceptable, and I have to insist that more can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty.

The launching of the Action Plan towards Prosperity for All, the so-called Harambee Prosperity Plan 2016/17 – 2019/20, has a great potential to foster enjoyment by older persons of their rights as it specifically refers to the social protection for older persons and addresses key areas such as hunger, poverty, and housing.”

While the establishment and expansion of an extensive system of social grants is a significant achievement and example to follow, the universal non-contributory old age grant in many households constitutes the only income as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I acknowledge the huge positive impact of the old age grant to reducing poverty levels, while it is important to ensure that earmarked assistance reaches its intended beneficiaries.”

There are serious concerns about violence against, abuse and maltreatment of older persons and in particular older women in Namibia and there is too little discussion about it”. It is estimated that around 4 to 6 per cent of older persons have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Poverty, inequality, substance abuse are contributing factors, but also entrenched attitudes including about corporal punishment. “The government has an obligation to tackle this as a matter of priority.”

“I would like to assure you that I heard your call for technical cooperation and capacity building. The international community has indeed an important role to play in complementing and supporting your efforts to address the challenges of an ageing society and in particular in the fight of old age poverty. I will do my utmost to encourage the international community to continue its cooperation with Namibia, including through financial and specific technical support. ”

During her ten-day visit, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte visited Windhoek, Katutura, Okahandja, as well as Rundu, Silikunga, Zone and Mpungu in the Kavango Regions and met with various Government authorities, non-governmental organizations, the academia and others working on the rights of older persons, as well as older persons themselves and their representative organizations.

The Independent Expert will present her findings and recommendations of her country visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

ENDS

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontificia Unversidad Católica de Chile. Learn more.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page –Namibia

Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

For further information and media requests, please contact Mr. Khaled Hassine
(+41 22 917 93 67, during the visit +41 79-444-3940, khassine@ohchr.org) or write to olderpersons@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts in Geneva:
Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 9179826/ mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

Tag and share – Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

#BeBoldForChange Artwork on display at the UN House

Art work, created by students at the University of Namibia (UNAM) on International Women’s Day (IWD), is currently on display at the UN House in Klein Windhoek.

The dynamic pieces depict how the empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description and were created during the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek’s #BeBoldForChange Art Competition.

The Competition was part of UNIC Windhoek’s two-hour awareness programme which comprised of numerous activities including an open mic and student’s pledging to promote women’s empowerment. Continue reading

IWD: UNAM students encourage their peers to #BeBoldForChange

International Women’s Day (IWD), commemorated globally on 8 March, is a, “time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities” (UN International Observances).

In light of IWD, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek hosted an awareness-raising event at Olupale Square on the main campus of the University of Namibia (UNAM) in an effort to engage with tertiary students on gender equality, women’s empowerment and Goal 5 ‘Gender Equality’ of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNAM Student Representative Council (SRC) Representative for Community Development Mr. Laeka Ileka opened the event by highlighting that women play an important role in society and are a great source of light in all aspects of society. He continued to explain that the reason IWD exists is to show women across the globe that their efforts and the challenges they face have not been forgotten.

Following the introduction, students were invited to share their thoughts and opinions on women’s empowerment and gender equality through an open mic session. Continue reading

#WednesdayCelebrateWomen: Sister Christy advocates for Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a worldwide call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Adopted in 2015, the SDGs comprise of 17 Goals that aim to transform the world by 2030.

As part of the #WednesdayCelebrateWomen #WCW Campaign, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek asks each WCW feature to pick one of the SDGs which resonates with them most and share how they plan to work towards achieving that particular goal.

Sister Christy, a registered nurse at the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) and UNIC Windhoek’s #WCW for the month of March, chose Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being. This goal is intended to safeguard healthy lives and uphold the well-being for all at all ages.

Echoing the targets of Goal 3, Sister Christy says that, “Health is a fundamental human right for everyone, irrespective of your gender, race, age educational status or socio-economic background, and every person is entitled to have the best possible health status.”

In terms of Goal 3, noteworthy steps have been taken to increase life expectancy and reduce needless deaths associated with child and maternal mortality. From the time the SDGs were implemented, much progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Good health and well-being is a key focus area in Namibia and in Sister Christy’s work. She explains, “It’s my responsibility to be part of the team that actively works hard in order to promote health, prevent disease and prolong life.”

Increasing knowledge, raising awareness and shifting attitudes related to the prevention, promotion, treatment and rehabilitation of common health have been some of the attention areas in achieving Goal 3.

Sister Christy pledges to try her, “[…]utmost best to create awareness and provide health education on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and timely health care, not only [for] cancer but [for] health in general.” Continue reading

UN expert to assess human rights situation of older persons in Namibia

GENEVA (28 February 2017) – United Nations human rights expert Rosa Kornfeld-Matte will carry out her first official visit to Namibia from 2 to 13 March 2017 to assess the human rights situation of older persons in the country.

The Independent Expert noted that the upcoming visit to a member of the Group of Friends on the Human Rights of older persons will be an important opportunity to identify both best practices and gaps in the implementation of existing laws related to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons.

“I am particularly interested in learning more about Namibia’s extensive social protection system, including the universal non-contributory pension, which helped to significantly reduce poverty levels as well as the advanced technology introduces in the mid-1990s to manage the payment system. This is crucial in a country with low population density and may have a lot of potential for other countries in similar situations,” the Independent Expert observed.

“I believe that this visit will prove extremely fruitful in assessing the implementation of existing international instruments with regard to older persons while identifying best practices related to my mandate. I would also like to learn more about Namibia’s policies and strategies of relevance to older persons such as the Government’s Prosperity Plan,” she added.

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte is the first Independent Expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring, reporting and advising on the promotion and protection of the rights by older persons in the world.

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government, will also travel to the Kavango region to hold discussions with government representatives, non-governmental organizations and others, working with and on the issue of older persons.

A press conference will be held in Windhoek at the conclusion of the expert’s visit, on Monday, 13 March 2017 at 15h00 at the UN House, Video Conference Room, 38 Stein Street, Klein Windhoek, Namibia, to share preliminary findings with the media.

The Independent Expert will present her findings and recommendations of her country visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

ENDS Continue reading

UNIC Windhoek staff learn about photography

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team learned about photography through a skill building workshop hosted by Francis Photo Studios, a local Namibian photography company.

 On 2 February 2017, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team learned that a photo says more than a thousand words through a skill building workshop hosted by Francis Photo Studios, a local Namibian photography company. Continue reading

Holocaust Remembrance 2017: Educating for a better future

On 7 February 2017, UNIC Windhoek observed the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. High School students from Jan Mohr Secondary School, particularly those specializing in History, attended the day long event held at the United Nations House in Klein Windhoek.

UNIC Windhoek set up its annual Holocaust Exhibition in the foyer and the UN Library since 27 January, and welcomed visitors to view and reflect on this years poster set themed, the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda”.

The students walked through the exhibit in their own time and were ushered to the venue where the UNIC team led a two learning discussion on the Holocaust. Students unpacked and brainstormed the meaning of some key phrases, such as “Human Rights,” “Genocide,” “Holocaust,” “Racism,” etc. They reported back to the group and the UNIC team were taken aback at how knowledgeable the youngsters were.

The posters were an important backdrop providing a platform for an interactive learning – the UNIC team took the group back to the exhibition and carefully guided them through each poster. Each poster provided ample opportunity for discussion and questions were jotted down for the last part of the programme. Continue reading

#WednesdayCelebrateWomen: UNIC Windhoek celebrates senior resident nurse Sister Christy

As a way to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality, UNIC Windhoek is continuing with its #WednesdayCelebrateWomen campaign from last year, through which the Centre celebrated inspiring women each Wednesday. This year, as a way to get to know each feature better, UNIC Windhoek will feature one inspiring women per month.

For this month’s #WCW, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Christolina Kaventura, a registered nurse by profession who is popularly known as Sister Christy.

Sister Christy is currently employed at the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN). She is actively involved in generating cancer awareness at the community level and through social media, in the organization of wellness days and in training nurses on pap smears and breast examinations. Sister Christy’s true passion involves the National Cancer Outreach Programme which allows her, together with the CEO Rolf Hansen, to visit the rural areas of the country to host cervical and breast cancer screenings and to educate fellow Namibians.

Check out Sister Christy’s interview with UNIC Windhoek! Read along as she talks about cancer in Namibia, challenges faced by Namibia’s health system and shares her thoughts on women’s empowerment and gender equality. Continue reading