Namibia

Country Profile:

Country Profile Namibia.pdf

Namibia is located in Southern Africa with the Atlantic Ocean stretching across its western border. NamibNamibiaia had an estimated population in 2010 of 2.3 million people, of which approximately 989,000 are under the age of 18. Namibia has a GNI per capita of US$ 4,650.[1]

Youth Civic Participation Overview

Namibia has an active civil society with some youth-focused civil society organizations. For example, the Young Achievers Empowerment Project encourages young Namibians to develop their leadership skills and provides service opportunities such as engaging in environmental cleanup of Namibian parks. [2] Additionally, Namibia has an HIV/AIDS rate of 15.3% and the many organizations working on the ground to combat the disease in Namibia provide opportunities for young people to volunteer as peer educators and to be engaged in health education campaigns.

Namibia also has a non-governmental National Youth Council, established in 1994, serving as an umbrella organization to a number of youth-focused community-based groups. [3] The NYC implements development projects which seek to encourage the active participation of young people, foster a spirit of national identity and sense of unity, encourage literacy, promote gender equality as well as acting as a liaison and advisor for the Ministry in charge of youth policy.[4]

Finally, Catholic Aids Action (CAA) was founded in 1998 as Namibia’s first faith-based program for the country’s battle against HIV/AIDS. Currently CAA is the largest CSO combating HIV/AIDS in Namibia with 14 offices in 9 of Namibia’s 13 regions. CAA works closely with local community organizations and volunteers to focus on home-based family care and counseling, youth education of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support to orphans and vulnerable children, and voluntary counseling and testing. In 2008, CAA had over 2,000 volunteers assist in carrying out its programming. [5]

Policy Environment

Since independence in 1990, the government has empowered, encouraged, and supported the effective and constructive youth participation of Namibian youth. These programs are in the process of nation building in accordance with the United Nations World Program of Action for Youth for the year 2000 as well as the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment and the National Youth Policy. This is done to ensure that youth concerns, needs and aspirations are fully integrated in the mainstream of all government policies and actions. [6]

20 years after Namibia’s independence, some of the main activities and achievements in the youth programs include:
1. Youth Volunteerism
2. Youth Health
3. Juvenile/ Child Justice
4. Capacity Building
5. Environmental Education
6. Namibia Youth Credit Scheme (NYCS)
7. Youth Exchange Program
8. Youth Gender
9. Rural Youth Development
10. Youth Opportunities – National Youth Service (NYS)
11. Financial Assistance to National Bodies
12. Provision of Facilities
13. Youth Training

Namibia’s Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture implements many youth-focused programs. One program is the National Youth Service which was piloted in 1999 and fully established by the passage of the National Youth Service Act, Act No. 6 of 2005. The Namibian NYS seeks to engage young people in civic participation activities that contribute to the country’s economic and social development while simultaneously providing participants with skills training, work experience and personal development programs. The NYS is not required, and many of its projects are designed to be profitable undertakings that will contribute to development needs. All young Namibians from the 13 regions of the country are eligible to apply for the NYC. The recruitment process pays special attention to attracting an equal number of males and females as well as marginalized young people which includes orphans, out-of-school and unemployed young people. [7]

The NYS consists of three months of civic education training in which participants learn about the country’s history, Namibian laws and their rights and responsibilities under such laws, human rights and national development programs. Following this, participants are deployed into three months of national service, in which they serve in hospitals, national farms, education, community health centers and other assigned responsibilities. Upon completion of their service, participants can apply to be accepted into further skills training courses, covering fields including nursing, pharmacy, hospitality management, information technology, etc. The length of time participants spend in their training depends on their course of study.

The NYS accepts approximately 1,000 participants each year and provides them with housing, meals, transportation and medical services, in addition to a monthly allowance. The NYS is funded through Parliament but also receives funding from donors, business institutions and from any profit generated by its own activities. According to Namibian officials, the NYS has been successful in preparing participants for work in the private and public sectors. Indeed, many organizations specifically seek to recruit NYS graduates. [8]

The Ministry of Youth also has the Namibia Youth Credit Scheme, a program which lends money to young people in Namibia for use in starting businesses and establishing income generating activities. The program was piloted in 2005 and, as a five year program, is scheduled to end in 2010. The program allocates funds to young people between the ages of 18 and 35, and currently has a loan repayment rate of 90%. A large percentage of participants are young women who have started micro-enterprises that are growing into small businesses. [9]

Rationale/Background

Namibia, like many of its neighbors, faces a large threat from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Namibia currently has nearly 160,000 orphans and vulnerable children, representing over 30% of the Namibian population under the age of 18.[10] Additionally, Namibia’s rural population suffers from poor infrastructure with only 14% of rural Namibians using improved sanitation facilities.[11] Namibian young people also face issues of high unemployment rates, which some argue has been largely ignored by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture. Recently, a group of Namibian young people gathered to demonstrate and raise awareness for the issue. Deputy Minister Pohamba Shifeta was quoted as saying “I’ve looked at our economy, and it can’t absorb all these young people unless we create new opportunities.”[12] Organizations like the Youth Achievers Empowerment Project and Catholic Aids Action are helping Namibia combat its HIV/AIDS crisis, while government programs such as the National Youth Service and National Youth Credit Scheme help create job opportunities and foster civically engaged young people.

The government has also reviewed its outdated National Youth Policy and launched a new version of the document based on human rights and social justice while emphasizing employment creation, financial support for young entrepreneurs and access to agricultural land. The new policy document defines youth as those between the ages 16 and 30 and recognizes “fundamental human rights” such as freedom of political, cultural and religious expression, as stipulated in the Constitution and international conventions to which Namibia is a signatory, and no discrimination on the basis of color, race, creed or social status. The new policy also states that young Namibians are supposed to “promote and defend democracy through active participation in the democratic process at all levels”. In addition to this, the new policy also states that the private sector should get involved in the development of young people in education, training, entrepreneurship, job creation and skills transfer. The government intends to make micro-loans available to young entrepreneurs already involved in a business.

Among the policy objectives is “to facilitate access to agricultural land and facilities for cultivation and farming”. With regards to reproductive health, the revised youth policy seeks to ensure that young Namibians have access to anti-retroviral drugs, as well as pre- and post-test counseling with regard to HIV-AIDS.

Namibia formulated its first Youth Policy in 1993, which was followed by the establishment of the National Youth Council (NYC) and its regional offices. However, the NYC has been dominated by party politics and some of the youth leagues of opposition parties had difficulty obtaining membership in the past.

The revised National Youth Policy aims to empower Namibian youth to become responsible citizens, promote the equal treatment of disabled youth and emphasize gender equality. Most importantly, it states that young Namibians should promote the policy of national reconciliation, promote peace, security and development and display “tolerance and great respect for ethics in all aspects of life”. [13]

Going Forward

The challenge facing the Namibian NYS is one that is facing many other service programs, namely, high unemployment among graduates. In 2010, the NYS issued a ‘distress call’ asking public and private institutions to provide employment opportunities for its participants. One organization that responded was the Namibian Police force, which accepted 148 trainees from the NYS for enrollment into training as police constables. [14] The five year pilot of the Namibia Youth Credit Schemes was also implemented as one way to address youth unemployment and, as that program is now coming to an end, Namibia will need to continue in its efforts to create permanent employment solutions for its young people.

The National Youth Council will be holding a meeting to review the National Youth Policy from July 27-29 2012 at Tsumeb, with the theme “towards framing the national youth policy”. National Youth Council consultant Jason Kasuto mentioned that the meeting will be used to refresh thinking, chart new vistas in the youth policy development in the country and to reach consensus on youth development issues. The representative council of the National Youth Council resolved at its meeting of April 30 this year to convene a meeting to receive input from the youth in anticipation of the review of the policy. Kasuto added that because of the process that it takes to get input from stakeholders, the youth policy review is three years overdue. He also noted that there will be four pillars as the framework of inquiry – the youth civic and political participation, youth health and welfare, youth economic opportunity and youth educational skill development. The Prime Minister Nahas Angula will attend the meeting as a main speaker and in attendance will also be the Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, and close to 80 delegates comprising of all youth affiliates of the NYC. [15]

Contact Information

Obert Chinhamo, Programme Officer, UNV, obert.chinhamo@undp.org
Yeshi Katjikonde, Country Operations Assistant, UNV, yeshi.katjikonde@undp.org
Mandela Kapere, Chairperson, National Youth Council of Namibia, info@youthcouncil-namibia.org
Kazenambo Kazenambo, Minister, Ministry of Youth National Service, Sports and Culture, kkazenambo@mynssc.gov.na; ps@mynssc.gov.na
Onesmus Upinidi, Commissioner, National Youth Service, info@nys.com.na

Additional Resources

National Youth Service Profile: Country Profile_Namibia
National Youth Service News in Namibia

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[1] “Nambia,” UNICEF Info by Country, Web, 12 November 2012, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/namibia_statistics.html.
[2] ‘Namibia Youth Leader Has a Vision for His Country and Africa’ US Department of State, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.america.gov/st/develop-english/2010/July/20100729140748xlrenn….
[3] John Ekongo, Nudo youth face suspension, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.newera.com.na/article.php?articleid=10786.
[4] “About Us,” National Youth Council Nambia, Web, 30 September 2010, http://www.youthcouncil-namibia.org/page.php?p=about.
[5] “Statistics,” Catholic Aids Action, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.caa.org.na/statistics.html.
[6] Republic of Namibia Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Office of the Minister, Statement by Hon. Kazenambo Kazenambo, Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Updating the public through the National Assembly on the progress made in the implementation of Cabinet Decision on the Plight of the Liberation Struggle.
[7] “Namibia Country Profile,” Innovations in Civic Participation, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.icicp.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/5916.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Musa Zimunya, “Namibia: Youth Empowerment,” AllAfrica, 2010, Web, 21 October 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201007120753.html.
[10] “Children,” Catholic Aids Action, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.caa.org.na/children.html.
[11] “Namibia: USAID Country Health Statistical Report (December 2009),” USAID, 21 October 2010, http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADR594.pdf.
[12] Nangula Shejavali “Namibia: ‘Struggle Kids’ Good for Something (June 2009),” AllAfrica, Web, 21 October 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/200906050777.html.
[13] Brigitte Weidlich, The Namibian: “Youth Policy revamped, based on human rights”, 4 August 2006, Web, http://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?id=28&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=22071&…
[14] “NamPol recruits National Youth Service trainees,” Namibia Economist, 2009, Web, 21 October 2010, http://www.economist.com.na/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id….
[15] Sabina Elago, “Namibia: NYC to Review National Youth Policy”, 26 Jul7 2012, Web, 13 November 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201207260953.html.