First-ever visit by a UNDP Administrator to Namibia

05 Dec 2013

image Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Theo Ben-Gurirab

“Our programmes here are strongly aligned with the country’s National Development Plan’s focus on inclusive growth, environmental sustainability, and capacity development.”  -Helen Clark

Windhoek – On the first day of the first-ever visit by an Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to Namibia, Helen Clark assured national authorities of her organization’s strong support to the country, at a time when it’s facing the most debilitating drought in its history.

“Namibia is a well-governed nation” Helen Clark said. “We align our focus with the National Development Plan 4, and we trust the country can get more value for its very important industries, and maximize the benefits for its population. Namibia continues to grapple with poverty in some parts, the challenges posed by its upper-middle income status, and the current drought which has a devastating impact on cattle and wild life, and threatens the livelihoods of many communities.”

The United Nations Development Chief discussed Namibia’s vision to bridge livelihood gaps to create income balance with senior government officials. She further drew attention to the allocation and utilization of natural resources for a more diversified economy with H.E Hifikipunye Pohamba, president of the Republic of Namibia.

The president stated that “our upper-middle income status is not cognizant of the country’s historical background and its unique circumstances, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Currently, almost half of our 2 million population is affected by the drought.”

At a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honorable Theo Ben-Gurirab, Helen Clark discussed the need to emphasize local value in job creation and natural resources allocation, to utilize extractive resources for a more diversified economy geared towards human development and the attainment of demographic dividends.

During a cluster ministerial working session, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob emphasized the President’s position on the classification of Namibia as an “upper-middle income” country, stating that the justification on economic merit does not address the deep rooted income disparities among the population. The cluster meeting was held to discuss Namibia’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), STGs and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. «Namibia’s voice in the Post 2015 Global Dialogue needs to be heard, and the country needs to supported in fulfilling its objectives as outlined in its National Development Plan 4,” Clark said. The UNDP Administrator applauded the Government of the Republic of Namibia for fostering a peaceful environment and focusing on areas where it can sustain economic growth and wealth distribution, such as the fisheries industry.

Ms Clark will meet with the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Thursday and travel to the Erongo Region for a meeting with the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) in Swakopmund. The Commission serves as a vehicle for SADC countries Angola, Namibia and South Africa to jointly and sustainably manage the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). This initiative is supported by UNDP to promote trans-border and South-South collaboration in the conservation and management of natural resources, through ocean governance policy, and the environmental aspects of marine mining.

The United Nations Development Chief will also tour the Hangana Fish Processing Plant in Walvis Bay, and the country’s most important port; meet with civil society and women’s groups to discuss inclusion, gender-based violence and women’s empowerment, and visit the Havana Informal Settlement upon her return to Windhoek, to learn first-hand the challenges of addressing inequality in an upper-middle income country such as Namibia.

Namibia Facts and Figures

  • 29% of the population lives below the poverty line
  • Namibia ranks 72/167 on the global democracy index
  • Namibia has an adult (age 15+) literacy rate of 89%
  • Namibia ranks 128 out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index
  • 80% of the Namibian population has access to safe water
  • 44% of households are female-headed in Namibia