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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

UN Namibia #MondayMenu: 30 January – 5 February 2017

What’s happening at UN Namibia this week? Check out the #MondayMenu for 30 January – 5 February!

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

UN Namibia #MondayMenu: 12 – 18 December

monday-menu-12-18-decemberWhat’s cooking at UN Namibia this week? Check out the #MondayMenu for 12 – 18 December!

Today at 5 p.m. (10 a.m. NY time) the General Assembly will meet on the appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations; including a tribute to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the oath of office of the Secretary-General-designate, António Guterres, in the General Assembly Hall. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2grSESg

The WHO Regional Office for Africa, is hosting the First Regional Forum on Strengthening Health Systems for the SDGs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  Scheduled to take place at Safari Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek from 12-13 December 2016, the meeting is organised under the slogan: “Healthy Systems, Healthy People” and is expected to attract over 200 participants including senior health systems technical leaders and policy makers of ministries of health and key stakeholders from 47 countries in Africa and around the globe.

The meeting aims to provide a regular platform for senior health systems technical leaders and policy makers of ministries of health and key stakeholders to review, discuss and coordinate country and inter-country health systems strengthening efforts towards attaining the health SDGs. The Forum is preceded by a high-level technical opening meeting, held on 8-9 December.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) and UNFPA will be hosting the Demographic Dividend Study and National Transfer Accounts (NTA) Workshop from 13-16 December.

UNDP together with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will launch a carpentry workshop in Okongo, under the NAFOLA Community Forest Project. This will include the official handover of NAFOLA project equipment as well as a visit to the production site.

18 December is International Migrants Day. Learn more about this United Nations International Observance: http://bit.ly/1bywqXU

 

#WednesdayCelebrateWomen: UNIC Windhoek celebrates Lesley-Anne van Wyk

lesley-anne-wcwEach Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments.  Through her work for the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia she is instrumental in coordinating  environmental awareness and climate change projects in Namibia. This week we celebrate, Lesley-Anne Van Wyk.

Check out Lesley-Anne’s interview with UNIC Windhoek! Read along as she talks about climate change and the tips she gives on combating climate change. See what she reckons on gender equality.

 1.) Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?

My name is Lesley-Anne van Wyk and I was born and raised in Windhoek. I hold a Bachelors degree in Languages and Journalism from the University of Pretoria and a Masters degree in Globalisation and Development Studies from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. I have over 9 years of work experience in diverse roles and dynamic organisations. The last 5 years of my career have been focused in the spheres of environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation, food security and development communications. Currently, I coordinate an environmental awareness and climate change project at the Namibian office of an international foundation.

2.) What is climate change? How is climate change impacting Namibia?

Climate change, in simple terms, can be defined as changes in the average long-term weather patterns of a region for an extended period of time, typically decades or longer. Examples include shifts in wind patterns, the average temperature, or the amount of precipitation. These changes can affect one region, many regions or the whole planet. The Earth’s climate has never been completely static and in the past the planet’s climate has changed due to natural causes (e.g. volcanic eruptions, changes in the sun’s intensity). These effects are spread out around the globe mainly by ocean currents as well as wind and weather patterns to affect the climates of different regions. Human activities like the burning of fossil fuels or industrial production increase the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This traps more heat in our atmosphere, which drives global warming and climate change.

Namibia is particularly vulnerable because it already has a dry and highly variable climate. The vast majority of the population depends on natural resources for their livelihoods. The population growth of Namibia is expected to put additional pressure on (especially) land and water resources. Poverty, lack of income and lack of employment opportunities increase the vulnerability of households to cope with the impacts of climate change e.g. the shocks of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.  Continue reading

UN Namibia and GRN raise awareness at IDDR 2016 Commemoration in Opuwo

14691397_1104038613045787_6093899881088881784_oThe United Nations (UN) System in Namibia in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management (DDRM) and the Kunene Regional Council commemorated the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on 13 October 2016 in Opuwo, Kunene Region.

Under the theme ‘Live to tell: Raising Awareness and Reducing Mortality”, the public, traditional authorities and other stakeholders gathered to commemorate the IDDR at the Stadium in Opuwo and to learn about disaster risk management in Namibia and the importance of protecting Namibia’s people from disaster. Continue reading

#WCW: UNIC Windhoek celebrates UNAM Lecturer Stacey Pinto

Stacey Pinto, #WCWEach Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments. This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Stacey Pinto, a Lecturer at the University of Namibia (UNAM) who also works at the British Commission and is a published author.

Read along as Stacey discusses her career, the challenges she has faced and how it is important for people to work together to take action in order to achieve women’s empowerment.

1.) Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?

My name is Stacey Pinto (née Susa). I am a 29 year old woman who loves God and life, and I am passionate about investing time and effort into social issues that help change lives. I am a firm believer in people’s potential to be the change, no matter where life places them. Continue reading

#PeacePals: Namibians write letters about peace to South African students

DSC_0444The International Day of Peace, or #PeaceDay, is celebrated each year on 21 September and is dedicated ‘commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples’. In order to promote a culture of peace on an international scale, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek taught grade 7 learners at Ruimte Primary School in Rehoboth, Namibia about peace, and the students wrote letters to students in South Africa, serving as #PeacePals.

Diving into the presentation, UNIC Windhoek asked what peace means, and together, the learners provided a multidimensional definition. The learners raised their hands and mentioned that it means ‘non-violence’, ‘love’ and ‘when people get along’.

PeacePals 12Then, the topic switched to why peace is important. The learners listened intently as the UNIC Windhoek team explained that peace prevents unnecessary disputes and conflicts from happening and with that, ensures that people are not put in danger. Peace also promotes development and creates long-lasting, friendly relationships.

The students then learned that there are many organisations across the globe that promote peace, including the United Nations and its various agencies. Specifically, through the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, men and women from different countries are sent to areas where there is conflict in order to help the local governments establish peace and security with the aim of creating a safer and healthier environment for all people living in that area. Continue reading

#WCW: UNIC Windhoek celebrates Senior Legal Aid Officer Jozanne Klazen

Jozanne, WCWEach Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments. This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Jozanne Klazen, a Senior Legal Aid Officer at the Directorate: Legal Aid of the Ministry of Justice.

In an interview with UNIC Windhoek, Jozanne discusses her career, how law can be used to promote gender equality and the importance of women’s empowerment.

Check out her interview!

1.) Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?

I completed my Bachelors of Laws (LL.B) degree in 2012 at the University of the Free State, in the Republic of South Africa. During my undergraduate studies, I was a tutor for Legal Practice and Legal Skills and was asked to coach the first and second year students in oral arguments and writing. I was also responsible for designing a tutor’s guide that entailed designing flow charts to display legal processes and step-by-step instructions for assignments. This experience afforded me the skills to train and work with a large group of people from diverse backgrounds. Continue reading

#UN4U: Gammas Primary School pupils want to spark change in Namibia

EDSC_0371
On Tuesday, 16 August 2016, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek Team set out for Gammas Primary School in Khomasdal, Windhoek, excited to bring the #UN4U to another school in the capital city.

The UNIC Windhoek team was welcomed by the principal and was escorted to the hall, where the students were already assembled waiting with excitement for the UNIC Windhoek team to arrive and for the presentation to commence.

EDSC_0349The presentation started with a brief introduction of the United Nations, with a special look at its establishment and the work it does. Because the information in this part of the presentation is mostly fact-based, there has not been a lot of participation at the previous 6 schools that took part in the #UN4U program. However, this was not the case with the learners at Gammas Primary School.

The students confidently answered questions concerning the establishment of the UN as well as who the Secretary-General is, and some of them even shared with the team that they wanted to grow up to be the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

EDSC_0301This immense engagement with the students was only a sign of bigger things to come, as the learners were so excited that their hands were up in the air the entire time throughout the second half of the presentation.

The students not only answered questions the UNIC Windhoek team posed to them, but also asked the team very interesting questions such as; ‘If the rich were to give to the poor would this lessen the gap between the rich and the poor?’ and, ‘Is education the way to go?’ One of the learners, who had an immense understanding of history, spoke about colonialism and how this contributed to poverty.

EDSC_0313When asked how they will help achieve the SDGs, the learners shared their plans of choosing a career through which they can make a difference in the lives of those around them. One learner confidently stood up and said, “I would like to study medicine and become a good doctor so that I can open my own hospital and help people.”

The social studies teachers came up to the presenters afterwards and complimented them on a job well done. The UNIC Windhoek team, impressed by the learners’ level of discipline and knowledge, praised the pupils.

Up-to-date, the #UN4U program has reached primary level students at seven different schools across Windhoek. Not only did students increase their knowledge of the United Nations, but these students have been inspired to bring about change and to achieve the SDGs. Encouraged by the positive reception of the #UN4U program, UNIC Windhoek plans to bring similar initiatives to schools in the future.EDSC_0387

Secretary General’s message on International Day of Yoga 2016

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

21 June 2016

yoga-logoYoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world.  The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.

Yoga balances body and soul, physical health and mental well-being.  It promotes harmony among people, and between ourselves and the natural world.  Recognizing its universal appeal, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.

This year’s observance of the International Day of Yoga highlights the important role healthy living plays in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last year by all 193 United Nations Member States. Continue reading