UNDP Administrator Helen Clark’s visit to Namibia recaptured
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. “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” Helen Clark said.
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 President Hifikipunye Pohamba. 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), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. “Namibia’s voice in the Post 2015 Global Dialogue needs to be heard, and the country needs to be 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.
Mrs. Clark met with the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Thursday and traveled to the Erongo Region to meet 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 BCC was selected as being the one project that gives a synopsis of UNDP’s in its entirety, as a catalyst, for long-term human development in sectors that are particularly important to Namibia’s economic and human development. While in Walvis Bay, the United Nations Development Chief took a tour of the Hangana Fish Processing Plant, and the Walvis Bay port.
On her last day of the visit Mrs. Clark met with civil society organizations and women’s groups to discuss inclusion, gender-based violence and women’s empowerment as well as to explain how UNDP can support efforts of Civil Society in nurturing collective citizen action and greater accountability, civic engagement, promoting human development and advancing the MDGs.
To learn first-hand the challenges of addressing inequality in an upper-middle income country such as Namibia, Mrs. Clark visited the Havana informal settlement accompanied by Her Worship the Mayor of Windhoek Agnes Kafula. The UNDP Administrator applauded Namibia for all its efforts in addressing the problem of shelter. “I was rather impressed by the mayor and her senior planners with the approach that they are taking. It’s quite a challenge for a city to have new people arriving on the outskirts everyday and looking to set up home. But I felt there is a systematic approach and I wish the city well with the challenge of endeavoring to formalize informal settlements and begin that process of getting the basic services out” Clark said.
To conclude the visit in Namibia, Mrs. Clark met with Development Partners/ Diplomatic Corp to discuss the role of the UN and UNDP in the Namibia development context, taking into account the country’s status as an upper Middle Income Country. Helen Clark mentioned that what she has been “endeavoring to do during this visit, and with development partners is keep sensitizing to the fact that while Namibia is not without resources, resources need capacity to be unlocked, and development partners can help build the capacity needed to unlock these resources. “We see the poor in the informal settlement around the cities, towns and in the agricultural areas so what would unlock the capacity and potential of the people to be able to grow their livelihoods and become better off is water infrastructure, education skills, micro-entrepreneurship and access to market.”