The Embassy of Finland yesterday signed a N$9.5 million funding agreement with five civil society organisations.
The agreements are part of the Fund for Local Cooperation (FLC) of the Embassy of Finland, which supports the eradication of poverty as well as economical, social and ecologically sustainable development in line with Namibia’s NDP4 (Fourth National Development Plan) goals.
The Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia, the Namibia National Association of the Deaf, Young Africa, Future Farming Trust and the Ombetja Yehinga Trust are the beneficiaries of the funding.
The agreements focus on the enhancement of a democratic and accountable society, promotion of an inclusive green economy and the promotion of cultural rights by preserving local heritage and history.
According to the embassy, the majority of the world’s poorest people live in countries with abundant natural resources and Namibia is no exception.
“Namibia’s economy relies heavily on natural resources and the environment through minerals, conservancies and tourism,” reads a press statement issued by the Finnish embassy in Windhoek.
The Ambassador of the Embassy of Finland to Namibia, Anne Saloranta, said at the signing ceremony that Namibia is consistently ranked among the most democratic societies in Africa. “Namibia is acknowledged and applauded for its achievements since independence,” said Saloranta.
She noted that civil society has played a key role in facilitating and shaping a solid foundation for democracy.
“The government of Finland has supported strengthening of the Namibian civil society through the Fund for Local Cooperation for nearly 15 years,” stated Saloranta.
“As the Embassy of Finland and as the administrator of the fund we are proud of this cooperation,” said the ambassador.
She observed that civil society provides civic education and culture that benefits society.
Civil society provides independent and voluntary associational life that checks and challenges what happens in society and engages in reform processes where needed, she highlighted.
“This role of civil society is particularly important for the poor and those whose voices are not easily heard in the public domain,” said Saloranta.
The Acting Chairperson of the National Association of the Deaf, Peter Uushona, said the deaf in the country have many challenges hence the funding is timely.
Amongst others, the funds will be used to develop programmes to educate the deaf about their rights, train more sign language interpreters and develop manuals. “We want to be a voice to the deaf people that are voiceless. We have a lot of information but it is not in sign language,” Uushona said through an interpreter.
Dr Philippe Talavera of the Ombetja Yehinga Trust said the funds would be used to strengthen the cultural identity of the San children in the Omaheke and Ohangwena regions. He noted that many San children drop out of school, but through the cultural identity project the children would be encouraged to stay in school and complete their education to enhance their future prospects.
Among others, drama and dance will be the method of strengthening the cultural identity of San children, Talavera said.