UNITED NATIONS POPULATION INFORMATION NETWORK (POPIN)
UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-08: Statement of Namibia, H.E. Dr. N. Iyambo

ISO: NAM

 

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 AS WRITTEN





REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA



INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT

CAIRO, 5 - 13 SEPTEMBER 1994





STATEMENT BY

HON. DR. NICKEY IYAMBO

MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

CAIRO, 8 SEPTEMBER 1994



                              Check against delivery.





     MR PRESIDENT

     YOUR EXCELLENCIES

     LADIES AND GENTLEMEN



     The Namibian delegation is delighted that the Government of the

Arab Republic of Egypt has offered Cairo as the venue for the United

Nations International Conference on Population and Development.



     My delegation is also delighted that his Excellency, President

Hosni Mubarak has been elected to guide our deliberations. In this

regard the Namibian delegation will offer its full cooperation leading

to the successful conclusion of our work here.



     Mr. President, Namibia's population of 1.4 million is spread over

a vast area of 824,269 sq. km, yielding an average density of 1.7

persons per sq. km, one of the lowest in the world. But, like Egypt,

most of the vast land mass of Namibia is arid or semi-arid with limited

population carrying capacity. The available records on the population of

Namibia indicate a small population base, characterized by a high rate

of population growth and a tremendous potential for future expansion. In

terms of growth, the population of Namibia increased at a rate of 2.9

per cent per annum between 1970 and 1980 and at 3.0 per cent annually

during the 1981-1991 decade.



     In essence, the high growth of the 1970's increased further in the

1980's and the projections show that the upward trend in this is

evidence of high fertility.



     The next age group, those aged 15-30 years, makes up about 30 per

cent of the population. Because of lack of employment the youth is

experiencing considerable economic difficulties and neglect in terms of

human resources development and utilization, leading to high drop-out

rates from schools, the emergence of marginalised children, drug and

alcohol abuse, the rising wave of delinquent behaviour and teenage

pregnancies.



     Women make up over half of the total population of Namibia (51.32

per cent). But in spite of their numerical parity with men, their

contribution of the overall social and economic development process is

not being fully utilized.  The health of mothers and children tend to be

at risk with increasing numbers of children, particularly amongst women

who are too young, too old, who have children too closely spaced or who

become pregnant too often.



     Mr. President, the high level of fertility, characterized by the

early onset of childbearing and close spacing of births, present risks

and hardships on families and Government to provide social and economic

support.



     Mr. President, with regard to the question on the empowerment of

women, the Namibians are equal, irrespective of sex. Special references

are particularly made for the protection of the rights of women in the

constitution, as well as in other statutory laws and regulations

applicable in Namibia. Therefore, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,

Namibia cannot negotiate on the rights of its women to decide what is

right or what is not right for them, when those rights are already

stipulated in the constitution of the country.



     On the issue of family planning, the Namibian Government is giving

all the necessary family planning information and assistance, promoting

responsible parenthood where women and men have to decide on the size

and spacing of their families, which they are capable of supporting,

both materially and emotionally.



     On the question of abortion, the position of Namibia is that it

can only be performed under strict medical supervision within the

confines of the laws, which state that consent to abortion can only be

given in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in

danger. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen it must be clearly

understood that Namibia does not promote abortion as a means of family

planning but as a public health issue.



     Mr. President, the high rate of population growth without

corresponding economic growth will, in the long run, affect the ability

of my Government to meet the expectations of its people with regard to

health services, education, food security, housing, preservation of the

environment and the management of our natural resources.



     Mr. President, distinguished delegates, it is very important that

this conference takes a positive decision on the chapters XIII - XV,

which will allow for the establishment of the population growth in the

country will continue for the next twenty years, pushing the population

up to 3.5 million by the year 2021.



     Mr. President, the high rate of Namibia's population growth and

associated characteristics have, no doubt, important implications for

the sustainable development of the country's economy and its

environment.



     With over 72 per cent of the population residing in the rural

areas, Namibia can be described as a predominantly rural population.

However, demographic trends indicate a 5 per cent annual growth in urban

areas with the result that cities and towns are experiencing a rapid

rate of population growth.  The ever-increasing concentration of the

population in urban areas is due largely to the rising rate of internal

migration from rural to urban areas. Unfortunately this is a trend which

is leaving farm work increasingly in the hands of women and children, as

men move to towns and cities in search of elusive wage earning

employment.



     Mr. President, unemployment and under-employment is a serious

problem in Namibia. Already the l991 census estimated that about 20 per

cent of the 494,000 economically active persons in Namibia were

unemployed. Estimates also show that the unemployment rate could be as

high as 40 per cent among rural workers Such a situation is causing

concern to the Government.



     One dominant feature of Namibia's population is its youth children

aged 0-14 years make up over 42 per cent of the total; necessary and

effective institutional framework that will put into place national

population policies and programmes of action in order to ensure

international co-operation for sustainable social, economic and

environmental development and management.



     I thank you.


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