Urgent action still needed to safeguard children in Namibia

Namibia has improved its position in rankings thanks to consistent efforts to realise children's rights.

26 November 2018 | Social Issues

Ellanie Smit - Urgent action is necessary to address the challenges Namibia still faces to realise the rights and wellbeing of its children.

In a statement issued by LifeLine/Childline, the support organisation says that even though Namibia performed well on the Child-Friendliness Index (CFI) for 2018, there are areas that need urgent improvement.

Namibia ranked as the 7th most child-friendly country in Africa in the index that was recently released, while in 2013 it was ranked 26th.

Over the past five years, Namibia has managed to improve its position by 19 places on the index that ranks African countries' consistent efforts to realise children's rights. However, LifeLine/Childline said that while Namibia has adopted quite a number of child-related laws, several are still pending. These include the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, the full prohibition of corporal punishment in homes and alternative care settings, and the increase of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 8 years to the recommended 12 years.

It said the country must also still introduce child-friendly courts nationwide.

Other areas of concern are that 7 in every 10 people in Namibia have no access to safely managed sanitation facilities, while one in every five people still live on less than U$1.90 per day.

Meanwhile, the pre-primary enrolment in Namibia is below the African average both for boys and girls, at 21% and 22% respectively.



Solutions

LifeLine/Childline in collaboration with the Desk for Social Development of the Evangelical Lutheran Church convenes a one-day workshop during the first week of December with key stakeholders in civil society, government, the private sector, as well as academic and children's organisations to discuss the findings of the report.

Stakeholders will then agree on a plan of action to sustain and consolidate the achievements and most importantly, take steps to improve the weaknesses and challenges identified in the report.

Copies of the report will be delivered to the Presidency, line ministers, parliament and other key community leaders with a call for urgent action.

LifeLine/Childline also noted that there are a number of reasons that contributed to Namibia's good performance. Not only is child marriage among the lowest in Africa, but the proportion of children under the age of 5 registered with civil authorities in Namibia stands at about 87%, which is amongst the highest in Africa.

Another reason is that education expenditure is the 3rd highest in Africa – 8.3 % of the GDP.

Furthermore, health expenditure is among the top in Africa (12.9% of the total government expenditure), while the current public social protection expenditure stands at 6.7% of GDP, much better than several countries.

The average number of students per teacher in Namibia is 30, well below the maximum recommended level 40:1. It was also noted that skilled birth attendance is considerably better than many African countries: Nearly 9 in 10 births is attended by a skilled birth attendant in Namibia. Furthermore, immunisation coverage in Namibia is substantial and much better than several other countries, standing at about 85%, while access to primary education has also been improved over the last decade.



Indicators

Since 2008, the CFI is conducted by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) every year. The 2018 CFI is based on the revised framework and consists of 25 quantitative indicators and covers 52 African countries, including Namibia.

The ACPF is an independent, not-for-profit Pan-African centre of policy research and advocacy on the African child. It was established in 2003 out of concern for the situation of the African child and the need for Africans to recognise their responsibility to collectively ensure the realisation of all rights of all children.

The three pillars on which the main dimensions of the CFI hinge are Protection, Provision and Participation. Namibia scored high in terms of these three pillars, ranking 9th for child protection, 6th for provision of basic needs and 4th for participation.

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