Windhoek-Japan has given a grant of US$800 000 (approximately N$9.5 million) to the government of Namibia to help address the health needs of the most vulnerable citizens in the seven northern regions affected by recurrent drought and floods.
The objective of the funds, funneled through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is to mitigate the impact of drought and flood emergencies on children and their families and increase their resilience by improving the health and nutrition status of the most vulnerable through strengthening their health systems.
Regions earmarked for assistance are Kavango East, Kavango West, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, Kunene and Zambezi.
The regions have over the years experienced intense drought as well as flooding, noted Japanese Ambassador to Namibia Hideyuki Sakamoto.
Handing over the grant to the Ministry of Health and Social Services yesterday, Sakamoto said the fund applies a comprehensive approach to mitigate the impacts of the emergencies and to increase their resilience by improving the health and nutrition status through strengthening of the health system.
“Japan government felt the necessity to urgently respond to the compelling needs of the most vulnerable population in the seven regions that were previously hard-hit by drought and floods,” said the Japanese Ambassador.
Sakamoto revealed that the N$9.5 million is the third donation, following two projects that were implemented from 2012 to 2015 with a total funding of N$2.3 million from the government of Japan through UNICEF Namibia.
“The project mainly targets mothers and children among other vulnerable [people]. It is from the Japan experience that investing in mother and children would contribute to poverty reduction, economic growth and prosperity,” he observed.
Japan has decided to support the Namibian government’s leadership and efforts in partnership with UNICEF in order to close a big disconnect between economic development and social development in Namibia, Sakamoto said. His remarks echo those of President Hage Geingob who, while addressing members of the diplomatic corps on Friday at State House, appealed to development partners to help Namibia overcome inequality.
He therefore called on the responsible ministry and UNICEF Namibia to continue the efficient and effective works, maximising various expertise and coordinating efforts.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to witness the successful completion of this subject, as my duty as ambassador to Namibia is coming to an end. However, I trust the project will be successfully implemented through the close partnership established among the three parties and will contribute to transforming the lives of Namibians,” he said.
UNICEF Country Representative to Namibia Rachel Odede said the funds availed by the government of Japan will complement the ongoing remarkable work carried out by the government of Namibia to support children and families who have been made vulnerable because of drought and flooding episodes in the country.
“This programme is also supportive of the key government international commitments to end hunger and poverty and promote good health outcome. Already remarkable strides are being made by the government towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals and this programme will minimise the adverse impact on the progress of natural disasters such as drought and flood,” she said.
Accepting the funds, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Bernard Haufiku said the funding came at the right time when government was busy with the implementation of short and long-term development plans such as Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), Vision 2030 and NDP 5.
He therefore urged the officials responsible for the rolling out of the project to consider include areas such as community health care, the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmissions as well as the Malaria prevention and treatment.