Children in Namibia


Children in Namibia


Today Namibia is considered a stable democracy, however, like so many African nations faces many problems, not least the steady proliferation of HIV/AIDS which is estimated to affect 25% of the entire population leaving 60,000 children orphaned ~ accounting for nearly 50% of all orphans in the country with between 12,000 and 14,000 children living with HIV themselves. It is hard to imagine bring brought up in a country where 17.5% of the entire child population is an orphan and where most adults live to just 63.71 years old (2019).



There are 946,000 children in Namibia out of a total population of 2.541 million (2020) with 43.3% living in poverty (59% in rural and 25% in urban areas). The most impovished areas are Kavango West (80%), Kavango East (70%) and Kunene Region (64%), while the lowest rates of poverty are found in Erongo (16%) and Karas (21%). Much of this poverty can be attributed to the fact that 70% of the population depends on agriculture however there are increasing droughts in an already arid country and, according to a report published by UNICEF, only 13% of Namibian infants receive their minimum acceptable diet, equating to around 288,840 of Namibia's almost third of a million under five year olds. UNICEF also noted that 23% of all children aged between birth to four years are stunted. The Namibian government's recent 'Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report' published in 2019 noted that the country only produces 43% of its total national food needs, leaving an approximate 290,000 people food insecure. Despite these challenges, overall there has been progress towards reducing poverty across the country over the last two decades with Namibia ranked in 130 out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.


Life for Children in Namibia


Most children in Namibia live within families engaged in farming even though half of the arable land in Namibia is owned by white farmers. The country is home to thirteen major tribes with the Bantu-speaking Ovambo or Owambo being the largest and they all have different languages and customs from being land-based, planting and harvesting maize, sorghum and 'mahangu,' a type of millet that is used for the staple meal of porridge, not to be mistaken with western porridge (well, after you've drunk it you certainly won't mistake the two!) while other tribes such as the Herero and Himba live lives around cattle and livestock with beef being the most favoured meat in the country. Other significant tribes include the Damara and the nomadic San Bushmen. There are also White Namibians; the Afrikaner, German, Swedish, British, and Portuguese. There are normally about four children in each family (three in urban areas, five in rural areas) living in traditional homes made from sticks and mud. Without electricity, most cooking is undertaken outside on wood fires and piped water is only available to around 36% of the rural population, others have to walk to shared pipes or other water sources, often a mile away. Children are expected to undertake daily chores from a young age with boys tending to cattle and goats, helping to build and maintain homesteads, plough fields and other agricultural tasks while girls help with childcare and housework as well as assisting their mothers pound flour into the ground then helping with the cooking itself.



Given the poor quality of the land, many adult males are migrant workers in urban areas or in the mines. Inevitably there is child labour and trafficking in Namibia, fuelled by poverty, the high number of orphans and others fleeing nearby Angola. This work includes agriculture, cattle herding, domestic work, and commercial sexual activity with San children being particularly vulnerable to forced labour on farms or in homes. In urban areas children can often be found working in shebeens (bars) or on the streets peddling candles, fruits, handicrafts, and cell phone air time vouchers. To address this, the government in Namibia ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention however the practice is still widespread. Education for children in Namibia is both compulsory and free from the ages of 6 to 16yrs, although, as in many other countries, the cost of school upkeep and books etc falls down to the family. Education is comprised of Lower Primary (grades 1 - 4) and Upper Primary (grades 5 – 7), then, following a national exam, students can progress to Junior Secondary (grades 8 – 10) then Senior Secondary (grades 11 - 12) at the end of which successful students are awarded the Namibia Senior Secondary Education Certificate.


Namibia Children


The government has been keen to promote education, building thousands of new classrooms and it is estimated that today 95% of children in Namibia attend school with high literacy rates compared with other sub-Saharan countries. A further bolster to education has been the recent introduction of pre-primary education aimed at children from poor backgrounds aged 5 and 6yr old. The video below shows daily life for San children in Namibia. There are many charities you can contact to help children there together with child sponsor programs.




Children in Namibia: Children's Sanctuary

Children in Namibia: Children's Sanctuary


The San community, re-settled in Drimiopsis Namibia in 1991, lost its ancestral land-based way of life. The Children's Sanctuary project aims to meet the basic needs of these at the sanctuary that will provide food, shelter, safety, health care and education.

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Children in Namibia: SOS Children's Villages

Child Sponsor Namibia: SOS Children's Villages


With SOS Children, you can help orphaned and abandoned children when you sponsor a child in Namibia.

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Children in Namibia: Project Hope

Children in Namibia: Project Hope


Project HOPE works in partnership with local organizations and in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare in Namibia to help at-risk populations across the country access treatment, education, counseling, and opportunities to improve their income.

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Children in Namibia: Naankuse

Children in Namibia: Naankuse Clever Cubs School


The Naankuse Clever Cubs School receives no government funding and is reliant on the generosity of donors and school volunteers to continue their work bringing education to the children of San Bushmen.

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Children in Namibia: Namibia Project

Children in Namibia: Namibia Project


A UK based charity that promotes access to good healthcare, decent food, an education and a safe secure environment for poor children in Namibia.

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Children in Namibia: Sponsor Children in Namibia

Sponsor Children in Namibia


Details of how to sponsor children in Namibia with Namibian child sponsor programs.

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Children in Namibia: Volunteer in Namibia

Volunteer in Namibia


As well as sponsoring a child why not explore volunteering opportunities in Namibia?

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