Disability and Assistive Technology in Namibia

Namibia mapIn Namibia, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) works with its national affiliate, the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN). The NFPDN was established to cater for disabled people. Its mission is to empower disabled people nationwide through training, research, information sharing, and promotion of human rights and adoption of appropriate strategies to enhance their economic, political and social development..

According to the 2001 population and housing census, 5 percent of Namibians live with disabilities of whom 21 percent suffer from deafness, 35 percent blindness, 11 percent speech difficulties and 27 percent from disabilities affecting the hands and legs, while 5 percent suffer from mental defects.

The same census report revealed that 5 percent of the people live in Kunene, of which 18 percent suffer from deafness, 35 percent blindness, 16 percent speech difficulties, 45 percent with hand and leg disabilities, and 5 percent suffer mental defects. Physical disability is therefore a huge challenge facing Namibia generally.

As regards the situation of Persons with Disabilities in Namibia, they encounter multiple levels on exclusion and discrimination, as evidenced by the 2004 Disability Living Conditions Survey conducted by SINTEF (Eide, A. et al 2003). This survey showed that disabled children were more than twice as likely not to have received a primary education than their non-disabled counterparts.

Furthermore, 98% of disabled people were unemployed. The survey showed that there was gross inadequacy in the provision of vocational rehabilitation, counseling service and access to assisted devices. Such challenges continue to persist even today. For a more detailed country disability profile for Namibia, please Click Here»

With regards to the situation of assistive technology, it is pertinent to state that that NFPDN is one of the SAFOD’s ten national affiliates that have been actively involved in the Assistive Technology Information Mapping Project (AT-Info-Map), a project of SAFOD, AfriNEAD, University of Washington, and Dimagi which started in March 2016. Part of the project has been to raise awareness of the AT in the ten countries where SAFOD works, and the activities has involved understanding the situation of AT in Zambia as follows:

  • Most of government AT are imported. There is use of middlemen who price AT too high.
  • Government doesn’t have a law that governs procurement. Only requirement is that the AT should be of good quality
  • Tax exemption is available for welfare organizations, but the process is slow and cumbersome.
  • Namibia is not a manufacturer of AT.  Most AT are imported. Only a few are produced at Windhoek Central Hospital OTP Department.
  • No specialized middlemen in Namibia.
  • Long waits for AT delivery
  • Sometime inferior or second hand devices are delivered

The following are some of the recommendations from various stakeholders to address the challenges associated with assistive technology in Namibia:

  • Individuals should be exempted from VAT as well not only welfare organisations / NGO’s
  • SADC can procure in bulk/in a pool
  • Select a SADC country that is technologically advanced to coordinate procurement
  • Empower associations that are supplying AT
  • Need to produce AT locally
  • Include persons with disabilities in policy development
SAFOD will continue to update this page with any new interesting information related to the AT situation in the country, or if you are a disability focused organization that has worked in Namibia, or an independent researcher with any useful information about the AT situation the country, SAFOD would love to hear from you should you be wiling to share whatever related information you may happen to posses. Please contact us here