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.
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.
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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
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
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
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
In light of World Cancer Day, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek joined the world to support the cause by taking part in the #WeCanICan campaign by creating a dynamic social media poster.
“Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, co-worker, doctor, or patient- Jennifer Aniston. World cancer day is commemorated to reflect on how cancer affects everyone in various ways, and how we can collectively or individually take various actions to reduce the impact of cancer on individuals, families and communities. Cancer day is commemorated because we take time to appreciate and recognize the people who lost their lives, battled the disease and are still going through the disease.
According to the World Health Organization cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells. It can affect almost any part of the body. The growths often invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant sites. In 2015 the World Health Organization deemed cancer as the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2015. The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of:
- lung (1.59 million deaths)
- liver (745 000 deaths)
- stomach (723 000 deaths)
- colorectal (694 000 deaths)
- breast (521 000 deaths)
- Oesophageal cancer (400 000 deaths) (1).
The Resident Coordinator’s Office hosted the UN System in Namibia’s first Town hall meeting on Wednesday, 25th January 2017. All UN Namibia staff from resident agencies as well as some non-resident agencies attended in large numbers.
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Kiki Gbeho welcomed staff back with a short motivational New Year’s greeting. Gbeho highlighted that 2017 will be another great year for the UN in Namibia. She reflected on 2016 and highlighted some of the important milestones the UN System were able to deliver upon thanks to the hard work of each staff member from the respective UN agencies. Gbeho further thanked the UN Country Team members for their continued support during 2016. She called upon all staff to work toward Delivering as One to make 2017 successful.
The Resident Coordinator noted that “these are exciting times for the United Nations as there is a newly appointed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres from Portugal”. She spoke at length about the newly appointed Secretary General, his focus areas as well his vision for the UN System as a whole. Continue reading
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is commemorated each year on 6 February. This year, it is being commemorated under the theme “Building a solid and interactive bridge between Africa and the world to accelerate ending FGM by 2030.” Learn more: http://bit.ly/1kdPUat
Today is the first day of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) Retreat in Swakopmund. The objectives of the retreat include to: review of progress achieved in 2016, plan for 2017 and beyond; examine the functionality of ‘Delivering as One’ approach and mechanisms; provide an opportunity to learn from each other and strengthen collaboration; strategise around existing and new strategic areas of joint UN support to Government, especially under NDP5; and continue to build consensus among members of the Namibia UN Country Team members. The Retreat will finish on Thursday, 9 February.
As part of the retreat, the UNCT Members and Retreat participants will be visiting Immanuel Ruiters Primary School in Walvis Bay. This school is benefiting from the School Feeding Programme, an initiative that is spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture with the technical support of the World Food Programme (WFP).
School feeding positively contributes to learners’ performance as well as increases class participation and attendance in school. Currently, the School Feeding Programme supports 330,000 learners in all fourteen regions of Namibia.
Safer Internet Day, 7 February, aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and calls on all stakeholders to join together to make the internet a safer and better place for all, especially children and young people. This year’s theme is ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet’.
Also on Tuesday, 7 February, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek will commemorate the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust through an exhibition and educational programme. History students from Jan Mohr Secondary School will be visiting the UN House to learn about the Holocaust and the importance of preventing such a tragedy from happening again.
Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Learn more: http://bit.ly/20w4twe
The 2017 #MondayMenu information campaign artwork went through an image makeover for the New year! By incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals branding we bring into focus the 17 Goals which Namibia and member states around the world committed to work toward! The new layout is colourful and clean and will be used to communicate the UN System in Namibia’s weekly calendar.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS, PEPFAR and USAID is convening a meeting on HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health and rights for adolescent girls and young women. The “Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Consultation on HIV Prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Adolescent Girls and Young Women” aims to elaborate approaches and strategies for how best to reach adolescent girls and young women with HIV prevention in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
More than 100 delegates from across the globe are expected to attend the meeting. Participants will be a mix of technical experts, advocates, major donors, government officials and representatives of civil society organizations. The meeting will take place at Safari Hotel, Windhoek from 1-3 February 2017.
The fifty-fifth session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD55) will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1 to 10 February 2017. The priority theme for the 2017-2018 review and policy cycle would be “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”. Learn more about this event: http://bit.ly/2j9xFIM
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. For this reason, UNIC Windhoek will be hosting a photography workshop for its staff on 2 February. The idea behind the workshop is to equip UNIC’s team members with the skills to take dynamic photos that tell stories and can be used to communicate the work of the United Nations.
World Cancer Day is commemorated each year on 4 February. Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day will explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. Learn more about this UN International Observance: http://bit.ly/1RwhII2
Did you know that 2017 is the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development? This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers
UNIC Windhoek is responsible for the distribution of public information to the media, the public, government and key stakeholders. In fulfillment of its ongoing mission to provide up to date information and the latest publications from Head Quarters and other UN agencies to all stakeholders, UNIC Windhoek shared the latest African Renewal Publication with all media outlets in Windhoek on 25 January 2017. Editors from all major print and radio stations received hand delivered copies of the magazine for information purposes.
The Africa Renewal Magazine is a product of the Africa Renewal Information Programme. The Magazine first appeared in 1987 and provides up-to-date information and analysis of the major economic and development challenges facing Africa today. Continue reading