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Namibia Must Do More For Indigenous People: Local Umbrella Body Calls On Government To Increase Efforts


A local umbrella body has called on Government to increase efforts to support indigenous communities like the San and Ovahimba in view of the world day of indigenous people's rights today.


"In Namibia there is no specific recognition of indigenous people's rights in the Constitution and Government did not ratify any Conventions that recognise their rights," the Namibian Non-governmental Organisation Forum (Nangof) Trust said on Friday.


The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world's indigenous population.


"The African Commission fs Working Group on indigenous populations in its 2005 visit to Namibia identified both Himba and San groupings to be considered indigenous minorities and noted the positive steps taken by the Namibia to address human rights issues affecting these communities," Nangof said in a statement.


"It however noted a lot more still needs to be done. Some of its recommendations with specific reference to the San included mother tongue education up to Grade 3 for all San children should be implemented, Grade 10 dropouts should be trained as mother-tongue instructors in their respective communities and access to land and land security should be regarded as the most critical element to secure their sustainable livelihood.


"Government should pass laws for affirmative action measures to increase the representation of San and other indigenous communities in Parliament, National Council and local government structures. Another recommendation was that health centres should be established closer to their communities," the African body recommended.


In 2005, the Namibian government established the San Development Programme which is co-ordinated by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Several farms were given to San people to secure their livelihood.


"This is an important initiative albeit underfunded and applied on an ad hoc basis," the Nangof Trust said. "Government is further in the planning stages to set up a Directorate within Government focused specifically on human rights issues of marginalised communities, including the San and Himba."


During 1994 and 2004 the UN proclaimed the Decade of the World for Indigenous people.


The assembly decided to continue the observance of the International Day of Indigenous People during the second up to 2014 decade as well.


The goal was to further strengthen the international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development.


The African Commission's Working Group 2005 report set out certain characteristics for identifying indigenous communities whose cultures and ways of life differ considerably from the dominant society and their cultures are under threat. Usually the survival of their particular way of life depends on access and their right to traditional land, they suffer from discrimination, political and social marginalisation.


NGOs like Wimsa (Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa) based in Windhoek and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) help San communities assert their basic human rights.


Source: The Namibian

Tags: Namibia  Bushmen  Ovahimba  government  

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