Namibia improves in child-friendliness

Namibia has improved in its quest to ensure the rights and wellbeing of children but, there are still many challenges.

08 November 2018 | Local News

Over the past five years Namibia has managed to improve its position by 19 places on an index that ranks African countries' efforts to realise the rights and wellbeing of children.

Namibia is currently ranked the seventh most child-friendly country in Africa, up from 26th place in 2013.

However, despite considerable progress Namibia is still not in line with international standards when it comes to the recommended minimum age of criminal responsibility for children.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recommends a minimum age of criminal responsibility of 12, while in Namibia the minimum age is seven.

The index ranks 52 countries and is based on the three pillars of protection, provision and participation.

Namibia is ranked ninth in Africa for child protection, sixth for provision of basic needs and fourth for participation. The index is contained a newly released report titled 'African Report on Child Wellbeing 2018: Progress in the Child-friendliness of African Governments'.

The top-ranked countries are Mauritius, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Morocco and Lesotho.

The report says their high scores reflect their consistent efforts to realise the rights and wellbeing of children by adopting and implementing comprehensive laws and policies to provide adequate protection, and allocating relatively higher shares of their available resources to child-related sectors.

These countries have also been effective in improving children's access to basic needs and services, as well as in achieving better outcomes in child protection and overall child wellbeing.

The least child-friendly governments at the bottom of the 2018 table are South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Zambia, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Eritrea.

The legal and policy framework and the enforcement mechanisms in most of these countries remain inadequate and weak.

They also invest the least in education, health and wellbeing, despite the prevalence of multiple deprivations among their children.

According to the report Namibia allocates 6.7% of its GDP to social protection expenditure. The top African country in that regard is Lesotho, allocating 16.3% of its GDP to social protection.

Namibia is also one of the top-ranked countries when it comes to public expenditure on education, at 8% of GDP. Lesotho contributes 11%.

It is further indicated that Namibia has one of the highest pre-primary enrolment rates in Africa at 21.5%. The highest enrolment rate is in Swaziland at 24.6%.

Namibia has a pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1, which is better than the recommended ratio of 40:1.

With regard to poverty, 22.6% of Namibians live in poverty, compared to Madagascar where 77.6% of its population lives in poverty.

The report further indicates that only 13% of children in Namibia between six and 23 months old receive a minimum acceptable diet.

It is further indicated that Namibia has a 7% prevalence of child marriages compared to 76% in Niger.

The report warns that Africa is on the verge of a serious human development crisis, which would have grave consequences for the social and economic wellbeing of its people and for the future of the continent.

“Massive investment is needed over the next three decades to avoid the ticking time-bomb of a billion children and young people who are under-nourished, semi-literate or illiterate, jobless or underemployed,” the report states.

It calls for action in six priority areas: nutritious food, high-quality education, respect for the dignity of the child, human development, every child matters, that no child should be left behind, and public spending.

ELLANIE SMIT

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