Germany supports Namibia with 320 million N$ to fight COVID-19 and cope with its impact on business, jobs, livelihoods and biodiversity
COVID-19 Hygiene and PPE kits were given to Namibian start-ups., © German Embassy Windhoek
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Germany supports its Namibian partners in ongoing programs to fight the pandemic and to mitigate the respective challenges on livelihoods and businesses in Namibia.
- Capacity building for local COVID-19 testing
- Support to hygienic and prevention measures
- Enhancing capacities for e-Learning in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
- Addressing challenges and opportunities for start-up businesses and SMEs
- Protecting biodiversity and securing jobs in the conservation and tourism sector
- Immediate Support by the German Embassy
Germany supports Namibia in its endeavor to reach the sustainable development goals of the Agenda 2030, building on the principle of “Leaving no one behind”. Thus, the German Development Cooperation fosters inclusive and sustainable development which means improving livelihoods of people and respecting nature and biological diversity at the same time.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has so far provided 320 million N$ to Namibian partners in ongoing programs to fight the pandemic and to mitigate the respective challenges on livelihoods and businesses in Namibia. Until now, additional resources of about 250 million N$ have been mobilized to support Namibia in mitigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the conservation and tourism sector, whereas 30 million N$ are provided to support safe regional and local trade, and business continuity for start-ups and SMEs. This builds on more than 40 million N$ that have been dedicated to support respective measures with a focus on health and prevention as well as mitigation of socio-economic impacts.
Capacity building for local COVID-19 testing
Rapidly identifying infections with the novel corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) is crucial to enable immediate outbreak management and to initiate public health interventions. Building on the established cooperation of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) with the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services in the framework of the Global Health Protection Program (GHPP), experts of the German Epidemic Preparedness Team (EPT), an initiative launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Health during the Ebola epidemic, travelled to Namibia in the first week of March 2020 to support the establishment of laboratory diagnostics for COVID-19 at the national reference laboratory in Windhoek. The team brought supplies and trained six lab technicians from the National Institute of Pathology (NIP), the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Central Veterinary Laboratory.
Further and ongoing support is provided by RKI and EPT with several shipments of diagnostic reagents, laboratory consumables and technical equipment to ramp up Namibia’s response to COVID-19. This has enabled the NIP to meet the rising demand for testing in Namibia.
Additionally, Germany will reallocate 200,000 € (appr. 4 million N$) in the framework of the ongoing cooperation of German Development Bank KfW with UNAM for the enhancement of laboratory capacities to assist in accelerating COVID-19 response measures. This support will include funding of a mobile container laboratory for COVID-19 including screening, testing and laboratory equipment as well as personal protective equipment.
Support to hygienic and prevention measures
Working closely with highly affected target groups in Namibia, the programs of German development cooperation support hygienic and prevention measures to fight the potential spread of the novel corona virus and implement the necessary precautions to allow business continuity and safe livelihoods, for example:
Improving awareness and hygiene in informal settlements
The “Support to Land Reform” project supports awareness raising and construction of handwashing facilities in informal settlements. This support provided via GIZ includes the procurement of construction material as well as a short video-clip demonstrating the set-up of a “tippy tap” and the printing of educational material in various languages.
Mobile teams of the NGO “Development Workshop” received protective equipment which enabled them to substantially expand their work even in informal settlements during lockdown. The teams were also supported by an IT expert to monitor, manage and communicate the set-up of handwashing facilities. Funding for an impact survey on the effects of the lockdown on households organized by the National Alliance for Informal Settlement Upgrading was provided as well.
Personal Protection and Hygiene Kits for small and informal businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to businesses worldwide and Namibian start-up businesses are no exception. As the country eases its lockdown measures and more businesses are reopening, employers are obliged to adhere to hygiene safety requirements. In order to fight the spread of the virus, GIZ’s “StartUp Namibia” project, in partnership with the Ministry of Industrialization and Trade and with funding from the German Government, provided PPE & Hygiene Kits to small businesses in Namibia.
1,600 kits were given to various recipients at informal markets in the Khomas, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kunene, Kavango East and Kavango West Regions. Due to the strict measures in the Erongo Region, there the Governor’s office managed the handover on behalf of StartUp Namibia. Through the partnership with SME Compete, PPE Kits will also be delivered to the Zambezi and the Hardap Regions.
Through this hygiene support measure, 1,600 kits consisting of 2L handwash, 2L hand sanitizer, 2L disinfectant and 5 face masks were provided on a competitive basis to start-ups.
The PPE & Hygiene Kits were well received in the regions, especially by those small and growing businesses working in informal markets. The businesses are now able to regularly disinfect office furniture surfaces, provide hand washing facilities, keep hand sanitizers on their premises and comply with hygiene practices such as the mandatory use of masks. “This is good, I am back at my food truck but you can see clients are very few” said Mr. Rus Elder, a fast food business owner in Opuwo, Kunene Region. “Now I can just keep the place ready for the business. I am sure they will come back and business will pick up.”
Upgrading of markets and informal trading places
Informal economic activities are a significant contributor to the socio-economic survival and upliftment for many urban dwellers, specifically the poor. The informal sector also hosts a significant portion of the Namibian labor force. The temporary closure of informal trading areas during the COVID-19 State of Emergency caused major negative impacts to the livelihoods of the urban poor.
The request to reopen these trading areas under strict health and hygienic conditions necessitated the need to understand the specific upgrading requirements of markets and informal trading sites. It is against this backdrop that the Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development (ISUD) Project implemented by GIZ in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD)/Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) has conducted rapid assessments in various urban centers to explore the various upgrading needs. Through a discussion process with Local Authorities and traders, site-specific interventions have been identified which permit urban poor traders to secure their livelihoods in a safe and hygienic way.
With additional funding provided by the German Government, the recommended modification and upgrading of informal markets will now be implemented as a joint endeavor of MURD/LEDA, the respective Local Authorities and the ISUD project, to ensure the required social distancing as well as hygienic conditions to reduce the risks of community transmission of the virus and allow safe local trading areas.
Ensuring safe public transport in Khomas, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana Regions
Buses are a safe, environmentally friendly and affordable means of transport, and are therefore an important public service the City of Windhoek provides to her citizens. To support the City of Windhoek, the GIZ project “Transport, Mobility, Logistic” provides sanitizers for passengers upon boarding, protective masks for bus drivers, continuous disinfection of buses, hand wash liquid and other necessary hygienic supplies.
Additionally, a campaign for safe public transport will be launched countrywide, including the provision of 3,000 protective kits for public transport providers (with face masks, hand sanitizers, soap etc.) as well as training of drivers on the use of equipment and general preventive measures. Countrywide, all bus terminals will be provided with tippy stands to ensure constant hand washing facilities at the terminals together with information posters to raise awareness on safety against COVID-19.
Extending health services for truck drivers
Considering the importance of regional and transboundary trade as well as the precarious working conditions for truck drivers, the GIZ project “Transport, Mobility, Logistics” in cooperation with the Walvis Bay Corridor Group Health Service will provide additional support to enhance and extend the Mobile Health Clinics along Namibian transport corridors. This will include the procurement and set up of up to three additional mobile clinic containers in Keetmanshoop, Walvis Bay and Otjiwarongo, including the provision of running costs for up to 4 months for clinic staff as well as COVID-19-hygiene material and consumables such as an isolation tent, masks and disinfectants.
Creating safe work conditions in the charcoal industry
In the charcoal industry, workers’ safety is crucial. In the framework of the project “Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation”, GIZ supports over 4,000 workers with personal protective equipment as well as general awareness raising material on nutrition and health during the pandemic in English and six vernacular languages (Afrikaans, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Timbukushu, Nama/Damara and Rukwangali). These activities are conducted in collaboration with international and local partners, like the Nutrition and Food Security Alliance of Namibia and the German company DHG through the German develoPPP program.
Mobilizing Namibia’s youth to fight the spread of COVID-19
The GIZ “Sport for Development in Africa Regional Project (S4DA)” supported the National Youth Council (NYC) to facilitate a national awareness campaign on COVID-19 by mobilizing the youth. In close cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, 484 youth volunteers of the NYC in all 14 regions raised awareness about the corona virus and its spread in a door-to-door campaign in the communities. The volunteers were equipped with protective masks and sanitizers and strictly followed social distancing regulations.
Enhancing capacities for e-Learning in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Following the closure of education and training institutions, e-Learning platforms have become critical in ensuring the continuation of training of students also in the TVET sector. German-Namibian development cooperation in the GIZ project “Promotion of Vocational Education and Training” therefore provides support to the National Training Authority to develop a national strategy for the implementation of e-Learning at all vocational training centers in Namibia.
During the stage of emergency, GIZ also leverages respective capacities to build up e-Learning facilities at the Training Hub of three Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) in northern Namibia. VTCs will be enabled to implement parts of their training countrywide, using the existing online platforms.
Due to strict safety precautions implemented on site, the construction of new workshops continued also during the lockdown at both Valombola and Gobabis VTCs. Thus, progress on establishing new training facilities for three additional workshops has been ensured. With completion, training facilities for up to 150 students will be available.
Addressing challenges and opportunities for start-up businesses and SMEs
The past months have been a tremendous challenge for start-up and small businesses in Namibia. The lockdown implied that businesses were closed and could not generate revenue. As a relief measure, StartUp Namibia, in partnership with the Ministry of Industrialization and Trade with funding from the German Government provided the COVID-19 StartUp Grant Fund.
Based on a competitive process, this fund provided grants of up to 15,000 N$ per business and supported 200 selected start-up businesses to continue operation and secure employment.
The impact of the COVID-19 StartUp Grant was evident from the feedback received from the beneficiaries. For example, Ms. Melissa Kuruses, the owner of “MK Décor and Events” used the Grant to pivot from her struggling decoration business that came to a standstill. She used the Grant to pay reduced salary for her 5 workers and rent, and she used some of the money to buy and resell fish. The profits from her fish sales now take her through the crisis (please click here for the video).
Due to the success of the grant fund, a second round will be launched at the end of August 2020 with additional funding from the German Government. In this round, 500 start-ups and small growing businesses will benefit from the #COVID19StartUpGrant.
SME businesses can also contribute solutions and use opportunities during these exceptional times. In April, “StartUp Namibia” organized the first “NamibiaHacksCOVID-19” hackathon. In this innovation challenge, more than 400 participants in 108 teams countrywide submitted 56 ideas to develop healthcare as well as business continuity solutions.
In addition to this, German development cooperation is responding to the health and economic challenges of the corona crisis by combining demands and solutions on the digital platform www.leverist.de. Namibian companies are represented on a special site for corona-specific business solutions and opportunities at www.leverist.de/Covid19.
In the framework of “Promotion of Business Advisory and Economic Transformation Services (ProBATS)”, GIZ assisted over 30 Namibian cosmetic producers in the process of manufacturing and supplying hand sanitizers to the local market. Matchmaking between GIZ projects and members of the Namibia Network of Cosmetics industry (NANCi) was facilitated to address the desperate need for sanitizing products and ensure mass procurement.
Protecting biodiversity and securing jobs in the conservation and tourism sector
The conservation and tourism sector has been significantly affected by the loss of income from tourism, caused by worldwide lockdown measures and international travel restrictions. Tourism, which is the principal economic force in conservancies, pays for the conservation protection costs. National parks are a vital tool for conserving Nambia´s essential biodiversity. Countrywide employment and vital conservation activities are in jeopardy, risking the survival of local communities, wildlife and protected areas.
Therefore, Germany – in the framework of the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) implemented by GIZ - provided quick technical and financial support to the “Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility” (CRRRF) initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT). The objective of the facility is to ensure the continuation of anti-poaching activities, monitoring and management of wildlife and other natural resources, as well as mitigation of Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC). It is providing immediate relief grants to conservancies affected by HWC and is also directly covering operational costs of selected conservancies.
Furthermore, the German Government mobilized additional resources of 13 million € (appr. 250 million NAD) aimed at supporting Namibia’s efforts to avoid negative ecological impacts to Namibia´s world-class parks and protected areas, and especially to the local communities and the nature-based tourism industry to get through the coming months.
The funds will be provided through the KfW Development Bank to support the efforts of Namibia and the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) similarly impacted by the pandemic, to protect biodiversity, secure ongoing activites in the conservation and tourism sector and to safeguard jobs. Funds for Namibia will be used i.a. to secure ongoing employment of 700 community game guards and rhino rangers, 300 conservancy support staff and 1,200 locally hired tourism staff. In addition, human wildlife conflict mitigation and prevention measures will be supported.
Furthermore, support is envisaged for measures aiding National Parks and protected areas to minimize detrimental ecological and economic impacts of COVID-19. Funds will ensure the continuation of anti-poaching and wildlife crime prevention measures as well as ongoing patrols and implementation of park
Immediate Support by the German Embassy
A total of so far approximately 450,000 N$ from the micro -project fund of the German Embassy Windhoek was made available for several projects. The funds have been used to purchase food parcels with staple foods and soap for families in need in Windhoek, Gobabis, Okahandja and Witvlei, as well as to ensure hygiene and social distancing measures in an educational institution in Gobabis.
Furthermore, two kindergartens of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia have been supported with 177,000 N$.