Word of Welcome by the Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia to the Federal Republic of Germany
His Excellency Martin Andjaba
Dear Friends of Tangeni Shilongo Namibia,
As we are entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected, and continues to negatively affect the entire world, Namibia has equally not been spared. The economic and human impact of the pandemic during the first year, 2020, has been massive. The plight of children and the youth especially, often goes unnoticed. UNICEF, for example, reported that data from 87 countries reveals that 1 in 9 known COVID-19 infections are among children and young people under the age of 20. In Namibia, this trend is also evident: 15% of the COVID-19 confirmed cases at the end of 2020 were in the 0-19 age group– this means 1 in 7 of the total confirmed cases were children. The report also showed that in 2020, an additional 6 to 7 million children under the age of 5 suffered from emaciation or acute malnutrition– a 14% rise that will translate into more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month– mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. UNICEF concluded that by mid-2020, globally, the number of children living in multidimensional poverty, i.e. children without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water, is estimated to have soared by 15%, or an additional 150 million children.
In Namibia, we have seen that despite the overall decrease in the total confirmed cases since the lifting of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in September 2020, infection rates continue to flare up in close settings such as schools and hostels.
All over the world parents, but especially single working mothers, are struggling with managing a multitude of duties ranging from home-office via house-work to home-schooling, assisting their children with digital learning. We are witnessing that most countries face major challenges with back-to-school plans including safety and sanitation arrangements.
However, we must not forget that in the first year of COVID-19, at least one third of the world’s schoolchildren, i.e. 463 million children, were unable to access remote learning due to a lack of the necessary technology. In sub-Saharan Africa, half of all students cannot be reached with remote learning. Especially for the young children, this often means missing at least one meal a day and going hungry. The repercussions in economies and societies might be felt for decades to come.
I note with appreciation that the focus of Tangeni Shilongo Namibia is on education as the key to development, which is in line with the Namibian Government’s policy. I commend the organisation’s objective, to give every child and young person in Namibia a realistic and fair opportunity for a good education, especially children whose families struggle with their financial situations. Successes can be noted in the DRC School Project & Community Centre, as well as in the OPEN DOORS scholarship program.
In Southern Africa, the philosophy of Ubuntu teaches us that, “A person is a person through another person”.
With the words of our President, H.E. Dr. Hage Geingob, on 21 March 2021, Namibia’s 31st Independence Anniversary, I wish to emphasise that cooperation and solidarity can indeed transcend boundaries:
“Let us never forget that it has taken a united and collective effort to build this nation. Not one tribe, not one race, not one gender, not one religion has achieved this but all of us together. (…) I can assure you, if we stand in unity and solidarity, and pull together in the same direction, we shall fulfil the dream of an inclusive and prosperous Namibian House.”
Ambassador Martin Andjaba