Posts Tagged ‘Namibia’


Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

By Rebecca Sommer

EARTH PEOPLES – NAMIBIA 23 March, 2013: Growing numbers of semi-nomadic Himba and Zemba people are gathering in Opuwo town in the heart of Himba territory for their third Protest in 2013. The protest will start Monday morning.

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

The young and old are arriving by foot, in overloaded trucks and on donkey’s from all four directions of Kaokoland (Kunene region), despite prevailing drought conditions due to Climate Change, and their growingly frantic search for grazing and water for their livestock.

Each Himba and Zemba community has sent members which they could spare, while those staying behind will tend to the needs of their goats, sheep and cattle that are increasingly weakened by the drought, upon which the Himba and Zemba depend for their very survival.

The drought has caused already enormous damage for the self-sufficient semi-nomads, with nearly no rain they could not make gardens, thus they have no harvest of maize and other nutritional crops.

The indigenous peoples in the Kunene Region are already calling on government to subsidize fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food. The community made formal requests to the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council’s Management Committee, Dudu Murorua, at Opuwo.

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

But as much as they fear for their livestock and to face soon hunger and thirst, they are also hungry and thirsty for something else: Their human rights. They want to see changes, and they want to be heard by the majority tribe that leads the Government of Namibia. They want to have the right and means to maintain their culture, way of life, language, religion, traditional governance structure and so much more.

The protest is about their continuous human rights grievances, which made headlines in Namibia and the world after being published for the first time in form of two Declarations signed by all the traditional Himba chiefs at the beginning of last year.

On behalf of the Himba and Zemba,  Earth Peoples submitted both Declarations to the United Nations system. Our dear colleagues from Namrights submitted the Declarations to the African Union.



Months later, the United Nations Special Rapporteur visited the Himba and Zemba and met them in Opuwo, were Himba read their Declaration and handed him a copy in person.

The UN Special Rapportuer Anaya confirmed in his Statement the human rights violations that the Himba people are facing, which can be read here.

The Himba will draft and sign two additional letters. One will be addressed to the President of Namibia, and the other handed to the Governor of Opuwo on Monday. Both Declarations will be submitted once again to both of them.

“They got our Declarations, the responsible including the President are aware about our situation. But nothing has been done, we continue to be ignored” said community leader D. Muharukua from Opuwo.

Additionally, the Himba are furious about a 22-page report that was handed to three of their representatives that had traveled to Windhoek to seek information and clarification on the proposed hydroelectric dam (Neckartal Dam project) in the Baynes Mountains.

Namibia and Angola are planning to finance and build the Orokawe dam jointly.

Zemba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

“The report falsely states that we Himba have the door open for further negotiations, and that forced resettlement could be therefore avoided” said Mutambo, a leader from the Himba community Omuhonga who was at the meeting in Windhoek. “We are outraged, we said over and over no, and we mean it. There is no negotiation from our side, and there is no consultation, because they do not hear us when we say no. That’s why we protest Monday again, to show our collective objection to the planned Neckartal Dam construction once again. We rather die and throw us into the River, before we allow the destruction and invasion of our land. We explained all that in our Declaration ” He added. (

The Himba will also discuss this weekend the idea to propose Solar systems as an alternative to the dam. They plan a trip to Tsumkwe so that they can see a large off-grid system. The Himba Elders and chiefs will also choose about 10 bright young men and women that speak english and can read and write, to learn more about Solar systems these coming weeks.

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilm)

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilms

To hear about Himba’s human rights problems,

click here to WATCH VIDEOS

+++++++++++++++++ PRO AND CONTRA :

Orokawe dam in the Baynes Mountains:

• Will cost a minimum of 22bn N$ if not more

• Will need a complete overhauled stronger power line from the dam site to Omburo

• Will have a surface of 5900ha which evaporates 590000 tones of water per day which is in the region of 20% from the low-season run-off

• Will take minimum 10 years to come online

• Will need a lengthy power contract to be signed with Angola

• Will need to share the power 50/50 with Angola

• Will only be a peaking station because not enough water to run the 600MW turbines 24/7 (Only 1.7 TWh energy for the year vs. 5.0 TWh (if water would be enough)

• Will again not be Namibia’s own power because of the sharing

• Will again mean an investment that puts all eggs in one basket relying on the Kunene

• Will cause forced resettlement

• Will destroy special safety areas for indigenous peoples livestock at drought

• Will destroy sacred sites of indigenous peoples

• Will destroy special medicine plant areas of the Himba and Ovazemba

• Will damage the River

• Would make no sense in a country were Water is so rare

• Will damage fish stock

• Will cause enormous environmental impact

• Will cause large destruction of nature by building road construction grids

• Will violate human rights, UNDRIP, FPIC, ILO Nr 169

• Will harm tourism long-term

Solar Energy

• Take up only 900 ha for the same output (1.7 TWh per year)

• Cost 15 bn without storage for the same output (without storage)

• Storage for Solar becomes more and more available with new technologies and would cost together with solar roughly then the same as Baines

• Solar could be built where the need for power is and not in the most remote corner of the country with all the losses involved

• Solar could start right now and would be built as appropriate installments; no need to pre-finance in one go!!

• Solar would really be NAM’s own indigenous energy solution

• Solar investments will attract all the money in the world, hydro investments for Kaoko will not.

• Solar would means appropriate power for the Himba’s own use for energy and water pumping etc.

• Solar will give the people modern energy AND much more time to adapt!

• Would make Namibia stand out for it’s green, environmental and human rights friendly energy approach

• Would make sense in such a hot, sunny country

• Would get more funds from international sources to implement green energy as well as for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation measures

• Would be longer lasting, as Climate Reports estimate the increasing reduction of waters in Kunene

• Solar would be supported by the worlds’ tourists, the public is aware about the damages of dams

• Could be negotiated with the Himba people, and places for grids could be agreed upon

• Solar would be good for the Climate, Namibia’s Nature, Cunene River, and good for Namibia’s people

What the hydro people at NamPower and the Governments have not yet fully acknowledged: Solar Panels only cost 25% of what they were in 1995 during the Epupa Dam Debate

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, upon concluding his visit to his visit to Namibia from 20-28 September 2012

Friday, September 28th, 2012

28 September 2012

“In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, I am today concluding my official visit to Namibia to examine the situation of minority indigenous peoples in the country. Over the last nine days, I have travelled to various parts of Namibia, meeting with representatives and members of various San groups, including the Ju/’hoansi San in Tsumkwe; the Khwe San living in the Bwabwata National Park in the Caprivi and Kavango regions; and the Hi//om San living in and around the Etosha National Park. I also met with representatives of the Ovahimba, Ovazemba and other indigenous peoples in Opuwo. I want to express my gratitude to the indigenous people with whom I met for inviting me into their communities and their lands, and for sharing with me their concerns and their aspirations. Additionally, in the capital city of Windhoek, I met with representatives of the Rehoboth Baster and the Nama people. “Also in Windhoek I met with Government representatives, including from the Office of the Prime Minister and its Division of San Development; the Ministry of Environment and Tourism; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement; and the Ministry of Education. I am grateful to the Government for agreeing to my to visit Namibia and for the openness it demonstrated in allowing me to carry out my work freely and independently. While in Windhoek I also met with the Ombudsman, and with representatives of several non-governmental organizations and the various agencies of the United Nations. I appreciate the information they provided and their assistance in the organization of the visit. “In accordance with my mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council, my examination of the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia proceeds in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with the affirmative vote of Namibia. In accordance with the Declaration, indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their distinct identities and cultures as a basis of their development and place in the world, to pursue their own destinies under conditions of equality, and to have secure rights over lands and resources, with due regard for their traditional patterns of use and occupancy. “Like many other countries around the world that have experienced European colonization and waves of migration, indigenous groups that are in the minority in Namibia have suffered injustices in the past that leave them disadvantaged, to varying degrees, in the present. The groups with whom I met shared the common sentiment that, relative to other tribes in the country, they have not seen the promises and benefits brought by Namibia’s independence in 1990 fulfilled for them. These groups have expressed to me a strong desire for greater inclusion in decision-making at all levels, to be able to genuinely set their own priorities for development, and to regain or strengthen rights over lands and natural resources, particularly lands to which they retain a cultural attachment. “I am pleased to see that Namibia has dedicated attention to the development of San and other minority indigenous communities at a high level, and I have observed some encouraging Government initiatives. Overall, however, I have detected a lack of coherent Government policy that assigns a positive value to the distinctive identities and practices of these indigenous peoples, or that promotes their ability to survive as peoples with their distinct cultures intact in the fullest sense, including in relation to their traditional lands, authorities, and languages. “With respect to the San peoples in particular, who were the primary focus of my visit, I recognize that, especially in recent years, the Government has entered into some innovative arrangements with San tribes through which they have been able to increase their control over management of land areas and derive some substantial benefits. These include the conservancy arrangements in Tsumkwe and tourism-related concessions in Bwabwata National Park. In full consultation with the affected peoples, these kinds of innovative arrangements should be expanded and strengthened, along with greater efforts to ensure San peoples’ security of land tenure, which is still in places that I visited all too vulnerable. For example, in Tsumkwe, where the Hi//om San have recognized communal lands, outsiders have been have been erecting fences and encroaching on these lands, a problem that apparently is worsening without an adequate response by the State. “There are still also numerous San communities that were entirely dispossessed of their lands prior to independence, and those lands are now in the hands of the State and private landowners. These communities face serious social and economic conditions with scarce employment opportunities. I met with representatives of the Hi//om San tribe in Oshivelo, for example, who have for decades been living on a plot of land behind the police station as they await their long-promised lands, after having been evicted from their traditional territory in what is now the Etosha National Park in the 1950s. “In recent years the Government has embarked on a resettlement program that involves purchasing land for San and other groups. These resettlement initiatives appear to have positive elements and potential, which require further examination. However, I have learned that more needs to be done to identify adequate lands for resettlement and to develop land-use planning arrangements, in consultation with the affected San communities, as well as to provide ongoing support for the sustainable development of resettled communities. “In this connection, I believe there needs to be a reevaluation of the adequacy of measures taken in response to the removal of Hi//om people from the Etosha National Park prior to independence. I acknowledge that the purchase of farms adjacent to the park for the resettlement of some Hi//om people may be a step in right direction to provide redress for their removal from the park. However, as is the case with other resettled communities, these San communities require support in order to ensure that they can sustain themselves and thrive in the lands to which they have been resettled. Additionally, close consideration needs to be given to the unresolved claims of the Hi//om San people to lands within the Etosha National Park, as well as to their expressed desire to participate in the management of that park. Further, San people who today reside in the park should not be coerced into leaving. “All of the groups with whom I met uniformly expressed to me their strong desire for increased educational opportunities, but identified numerous barriers in this connection. Despite the guarantee in the Constitution that primary schooling be provided free of charge, and the commendable policy of the Ministry of Education to provide early schooling in indigenous languages, I have heard numerous accounts that these directives are not being effectively implemented on the ground. I also heard across the country that San children have been reluctant to attend school because they face discriminatory treatment by teachers and bullying by peers. I am concerned about reports that I heard in Opuwo that Ovahimba children are forced to cut their hair and remove their traditional dress in order to be allowed access to the public schools. “Finally, concerns were expressed among all the groups with whom I met that many communities do not have recognized traditional authorities. In absence of such recognition, minority indigenous communities are often placed under the jurisdictions of chiefs of neighboring dominant tribes, who make decisions on behalf of the minority communities. In this regard, I heard from unrecognized Ovahimba chiefs that they have not been informed about mining activities taking place on lands where the Ovahimba communities graze their livestock, an activity that is central to their livelihoods and culture. The lack of recognition of traditional chiefs is, in accordance with Namibian law, related to a lack of recognition of the minority indigenous tribes’ communal lands. I will further examine this issue the other issues I have mentioned as I prepare my report. “In the following weeks, I will be reviewing the information I have received during the visit in order to develop a report to evaluate the situation of minority indigenous peoples in Namibia. This report will be made public and will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council. I hope that that this report will be of use in the search for solutions to the ongoing challenges that indigenous peoples in the country face, and to advance their rights in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international instruments.”


To read 11 July 2011 statement from United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque CLICK HERE