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Namibia

The situation of people with disabilities in Namibia

by Bettina Kieck

In brief

Everyday life is difficult for people with disabilities in Africa: Wheelchair users in Ongwediva, Namibia.

Everyday life is difficult for people with disabilities in Africa: Wheelchair users in Ongwediva, Namibia.

According to estimates by the WHO, around 15 % of people in developing countries live with some form of disability. Namibia is no different, though specific numbers are not available. Namibia is also facing many problems that affect sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, including high unemployment and unequal income distribution. The quality of education remains inadequate despite far-reaching reforms.

Nevertheless, in contrast to most developing countries, initial efforts have been made to improve inclusion, and there has been notable success. In 2015, a ministry was established to address the needs of people with disabilities. Inclusion is thus on the agenda. Awareness-raising campaigns are underway to change people’s negative attitudes towards the disabled.

Research shows that people with disabilities still tend to be poorer than people without disabilities in Namibia, for instance because they are excluded from the education system. Rates of illiteracy are high among the people concerned, and fewer of them get formal training in vocational schools. These facts show that, so far, the Namibian government can demonstrate little in terms of practical success. The will is there, but problems arise due to lack of expertise and funding. Equipping vocational schools with adequate technology and barrier-free instructional materials is currently the greatest challenge. Furthermore, the schools need admission procedures that people can deal with in sign language. They must even provide opportunities to applicants who cannot take a written test.

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