The main event to mark ‘World Population Day’ in Namibia is scheduled to take place in Keetmanshoop today.
The theme for this year’s ‘World Population Day’ is ‘Vulnerable populations in emergencies.’ The event is intended to highlight the special needs of women and adolescent girls during conflicts and humanitarian disasters.
The spokesperson of the UNFPA office in Namibia, Emma Mbekele, told New Era the theme is befitting and timely as the world has witnessed a record number of people affected by emergencies, which result from natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks and terrorism.
“We have seen the disastrous consequences the Ebola outbreak had on the lives of our brothers and sisters in West Africa. Namibia is no exception. Just yesterday we were battling with floods and now the country is experiencing drought,” said Mbekele.
She noted that women, especially those who are pregnant, children, people with disabilities and the elderly are among the most vulnerable groups in emergencies.
The UNFPA executive director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin recently quoted a United Nations (UN) report that warned that forcibly displaced people have risen to almost 60 million at the end of last year. “Among these, most women and adolescent girls face particular threats as a result of the absence of health and other essential services that they need,” Osotimehin added.
Even under normal conditions, reproductive health complications are supposed to be the leading cause of death and illness among women of child-bearing age, he said.
In humanitarian situations, an estimated one in five women and adolescent girls are likely to be pregnant, he added.
“As skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable, pregnant women and girls’ vulnerability to death and injury is further exacerbated,” he said.
In addition, women and adolescent girls face much greater risk of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriages during conflicts and natural disasters.
“Many women who survive a crisis become heads of household, with the sole responsibility of caring for their children. They often have to overcome immense obstacles to provide health and care for children, the sick, the injured and the elderly and bear the heaviest burden of relief and reconstruction. As a result, they may neglect their own needs as they care for others,” Osotimehin said.
The Minister of Poverty Eradication, Bishop Zephania Kameeta, is among speakers expected to grace today’s event at Keetmanshoop.
World Population Day is observed on July 11 each year. But for Namibia the main event will take place today.