UN Day, October 24, 2013 marked the 68th anniversary of when the United Nations Charter came into effect. This year’s theme was “Partnerships for Global Progress” honoring and recognizing invaluable partnerships that further the UN’s mission.
The United Nations System in Namibia was very fortunate to have the Right Honourable Dr. Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia and thanked him for his commitment in launching the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPAF) 2014-2018 document.
Reflecting on the ideals of the United Nations, is not only an illustration of what good can be achieved when the UN, Namibian Government and partners team up to work together but surely demonstrates the importance of national ownership in the development of the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPAF), the Director of Ceremonies, Ms. Anthea Basson alluded. She also re-emphasized that there are difficulties and challenges in the world and it is because of these global struggles and worries the UN came into existence. Developing and building nations remains at the core of the United Nations work and over the last years, Namibia has made commendable progress in achieving most of the MDGs.
Prime Minister Hage Geingob said the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) that was in Namibia to monitor and keep peace during the country’s transition to independence was one of the biggest successes of the UN in Africa.
“The UN’s peacekeeping mission to Namibia during and after elections made sure that the transitional period was a success and this makes Namibia a direct child of the UN but even before independence we grew up in the UN system during the liberation struggle,” Geingob said.
The Prime Minister also applauded the UN for its humanitarian work, saying that people sometimes just see the political side of the UN but they don’t see the fruitful humanitarian strides made by the organization across the world. “If the UN is failing, then it’s the member states that are failing because it’s a worldwide organization,” said Geingob.
According to Mr Musinga Bandora, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Namibia, the UN will commemorate its 68th anniversary worldwide. He agreed that Namibia is one of the most successful achievements of the UN.
“The UN also has faced many political challenges with its member states, especially with war conflicts in Africa, Asia and Europe, and we really want countries themselves together with the UN to take responsibility and work as a team to ensure success,” said Bandora.
The United Nations in Namibia has achieved important milestones in its quest for economic and social development, including increasing life expectancy from 48 in 2008 to 62 years in last year.
However, Namibia still faces many challenges. Speaking during the 68th UN Day and launch of the new Namibian/UN Partnership Agreement Framework (UNPAF) 2014-2018, the chair of programme’s development team, Dr. Magda Robalo, said the UN is no longer providing development assistance, but is partnering with Namibia to support its development efforts.
The UNPAF outlined seven major development challenges, namely poverty and human development, access to land and food security, structural inequality and social justice, governance systems, health, environmental management and climate change, as well as institutional capacity and skills.
Rabalo stated that the change from development assistance to partnership is one of the important features of the new programme of cooperation between the UN and Namibia.
“During the situation analysis, we have noted that in some areas, progress was made during the National Development Programme 3 (NDP3) implementation, namely in terms of poverty reduction, whereby national aggregate poverty rates have declined from 38% in 2003/04 to 29% in 2009/10, (while) social transfers have increased threefold,” Robalo disclosed.
She said another example of progress is in the increase in the proportion of rural population with access to safe drinking water, from 80.4% to 88%, the number of people with access to electricity also increased.
Another important achievement was the increase in life expectancy from 48 years in 2008 to 62.6 years in 2012 and this is a major achievement for Namibia, largely due to the successes in implementing HIV/Aids programmes.
“However, despite the progress that has been realized, several challenges still persist. Namibia is not on track to meet some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and needs to accelerate the pace of efforts in order to achieve the Vision 2030 goals,’’ said Robalo.
In addition the UNPAF is designed to enable and support government to respond to the national development challenges and the document is consequently built around four pillars, which are institutional environment, education and skills, as well as health and poverty reduction.
Moreover, the document will be implemented through existing national mechanisms and structures. This alignmentwill also be carried out for monitoring and evaluation aims. No new corresponding mechanisms or structures will be put in place by the UN.
The UNPAF was officially launched by Dr. Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia. On a much lighter note the Prime Minister lead the 200 guests and UN staff in singing “happy birthday to the UN.”