Statistics released by the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) indicate that over 4% (98 000) of the Namibian population is living with one or more disabilities, with Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango and Oshikoto recording the highest numbers of living with disabilities.
Of the 98 413 persons with disabilities, 18 000 persons had physical impairments of the legs which can largely be attributed to the increasing road accidents in the country. In 2011 alone, Namibia recorded a total number of 2 902 road traffic collisions, which resulted in 5 659 injuries, while 4 679 injuries were recorded in 2012. The number of persons living with disabilities increased by 12 846 in just 10 years from 85 567 in 2001.
The NSA further revealed that 50 125 persons living with disabilities were females while 48 288 were males. The highest proportion among the females were visually impaired (20.2%), while among males the highest was the physical impairment- lower limbs (19.3%). Omusati and Ohangwena, who has the biggest number of people living with disabilities has seen major declines in the proportion of households headed by people with disabilities with access to water from 89.9% in 2001 to 48.3% in 2011.
“Sanitation is one of the most critical aspects in public health. Improved sanitation contributes enormously to good health and well-being, especially for persons with disabilities. It also creates physical environments that enhance safety, dignity and confidence as these are important to persons with disabilities who are often at risk of being neglected by society. The results therefore show that 62.4% of households of persons with disabilities had no toilets facilities. This situation is more prevalent in rural areas with 78.9% compared to urban areas with 25.6%,” Deputy Minister in Presidency in Vice President Office, Alexia Manombe-Ncube said at the launch of the NSA Disability Report of 2011 this week.
Manombe-Ncube cautioned NSA against using words that are sensitive and might lead to discrimination such as ‘mute’ and ‘dumb’, which the agency used in their report. Persons with disabilities are highly dependent on old-age pensions as a source of income, followed by wages and salaries. Only 33% of people living with disabilities receive disability grants from the government.
Children and orphans with disabilities who are heading households have been considered a potentially vulnerable group. The latest results on disability show that in 2011 306 households were headed by children with disabilities, which is an increase from 10 households in 1991 and 205 households in 2001.
“People with disabilities are one of the most discriminated groups in our society. 47% of the population with disabilities aged 15 years and above were never married. The proportion of persons with disabilities who were in consensual union has increased from 6.2% in 2001 to 10.3% in 2011,” Manombe-Ncube said.
The NSA reported that people with disabilities still endure the worst forms of social stigmatisation in their communities, with many being hidden by their family members because of some beliefs that deformation is a taboo and therefore a shame to the family. Namibia recorded 26 992 orphans with disabilities, while at national level a majority of 22.2% of the orphans with disabilities were having one parent as deceased and those that were orphaned by both parents accounted for 5.4%. The same trend can be observed for urban, rural and at regional levels. In particular, Ohangwena region recorded the highest percent of children who were orphaned by either one (27.9%) or both parents 6.9% respectively.
The majority (slightly over 45%) of persons with disabilities were employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, while administrative and support service activities employed about 7% of persons with disabilities. Construction, activities of private households, education, wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor and motorcycles, public administration and defence each employed 5% of disable people.
The most common ICT used by people with disabilities is radio (64.4%), followed by 42% who have access to cell phones, while only 3% have access to internet services daily while 2.1% had internet access on a weekly basis.
“The government has formulated policies and legislations such as Affirmative Action Act and the National Disability Council Act to empower people with disabilities and for their inclusion in the National Development agenda. Thus the need to produce statistics to show the geographical distribution of persons with disability in terms of their demographic and social characteristics,” Manombe-Ncube said.