Namibian Catastrophies Not Mentioned in World Disaster Report

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK As the world yesterday launched the World Disaster Report, the Namibian Red Cross Society named three neglected disasters in the country, which include orphans and vulnerable children. The other two are marginalization of the San communities, and gender inequality. NRCS Acting Secretary-General, Shannon Schroeder, said during the launch of the report, that orphans and vulnerable children and their care-givers in Namibia are being placed at the back burner as attention is now being focused on treatment of AIDS and acceleration of HIV prevention efforts. “The plight of the San, gender inequalities and OVC, made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has disappeared from the national agenda of donor agencies, national organizations and public efforts as they have been overshadowed by other national emergencies including floods and access to treatment,” said the humanitarian organization. This year’s report focuses on Neglected crises. And, while gender inequality accelerates existing social and developmental challenges such as gender-based violence and HIV, the San, said Schroeder, remain vulnerable and face enormous challenges despite development efforts in Namibia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IRCRC) feels that, although Africa had well-funded disasters in 2005, some disasters remained in the shadows. Namibia is grappling with around 156ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 OVC, of which 48 percent are orphaned by AIDS and 60 percent are cared for by their grandparents. The San, who account for less than two percent of the national population, lack access to independent means of subsistence, with a sizeable portion having no direct cash income. Highlights on the San, say, compared to other groups, the San are more disadvantaged in almost every available social economic indicator as they have the lowest per capita income and 60 percent of them are dependent on state-run food aid programmes. As far as gender inequalities are concerned, women in Namibia, who account for more than half of the population, lack access to productive land and are unable to inherit property, which plays a role in putting female-headed households in a more vulnerable position. Gender inequalities, it said, define all the unacceptable disparities existing between men and women in society, with some of them being low participation in economic, social and political sectors of society. Although the country does not have food security problems, female-headed households are the worst affected in terms of availability and affordability of food. Schroeder said that, in the face of increasing food insecurity, there should be strategies in place to address food security among OVC until they are old enough to produce food for themselves. She added that failure to address inequalities in disaster response could condemn women and girls to less aid, fewer opportunities, ill health, violence and even death. Schroeder called for an end to the neglect of gender in disasters and to ensure that the rights of women be equal partners in all aspects of disaster risk-reduction and response. At the global level, the Acting Secretary-General said the continuing cycle of neglect and misery must be interrupted by government, donors, the media and aid organizations willing to think and act differently to address several types of neglect. The report mentions more chronic deadly humanitarian crises of food shortages in Malawi, Niger and the Horn of Africa, unfunded humanitarian appeals, unaccounted numbers of migrants who die in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures, difficult situations when it comes to accessing people in insecure environments and also humanitarian crises which are hidden by politics or culture. Some of 2005’s large-scale disasters included the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the South Asian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, which killed close to 100ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 in all.

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