Voluntary National Review 2021

Watch video of panel where the VNR was presented

Summary of Key Messages

Reflecting its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Namibia volunteered to undertake a second national review of SDGs in 2021. The focus will be on three SDGs dimensions, namely, Economic, Social and Environmental which are comprehensively integrated in the fifth National Development Plan (NDP 5) pillars: “Economic Progression, Social Transformation, Environmental Sustainability and Good Governance.

Economic progression

In 2020, Namibia recorded the deepest economic contraction of 8.0% on account of the COVID-19 pandemic which appears to have exacerbated the already slow economic growth due to, amongst others, the persistent drought. However, it is expected to gradually rebound to above 3% in the medium-term owing to the recuperation of the external demand and commodity prices in the mining sector. The unemployment rate remained high at 33.4% in 2018, the highest being amongst the youth at 46.1%. Namibia’s target is to reduce unemployment rate to 24.2% by 2022.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2019 ranks Namibia as one of the African Countries with good roads infrastructures, scoring 5.3 out of 7. Namibia developed the Logistics Master Plan (2015), aimed at making her an international logistics hub through the utilization of potential benefits such as the country’s geographic location to provide safe, efficient, and effective Transport Infrastructure and services for social and economic development.

Social transformation

In the spirit of Leaving no One Behind (LNOB), Namibia passed the Social Protection Policy in 2021, progress has also been made in addressing risks and vulnerabilities that people face throughout their life cycles, through social assistance programs targeting the poor and vulnerable, as the non-contributory grant spending increased from N$5.1 billion in the 2018/2019 fiscal year to N$6.2 billion in the 2020/2021 fiscal year. The coverage rate of the main social grants for the same period has increased with old age grant coverage from 95 to 98 %, disability grant coverage from 71% to 74% and child grant from 60% to 66%.

In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, the country implemented three new non-contributory programs in the areas of housing/basic services, economic stimulus and relief package, and special allowance/grant targeting the poor and vulnerable population, as well as workers and/or dependents. The government spent N$560 million on the Emergency Income Grant, which benefited 769,000 Namibians, above the age of 16 years, which in relative terms presents one of the highest coverage rates in the world. Equally, the economic stimulus and relief package benefited 230 employers and 21,359 employees through wage subsidy while employee salary protection programs cost a total of N$ 8.1 billion.

Environmental sustainability

In reducing to wildlife, Namibia has made considerable efforts in combating poaching by strengthening institutional coordination to combat wildlife crimes, resulting in the reduction of about 70% of poached elephants and rhinos falling from 97 and 49 in 2015 to 31 and 11 in 2020, respectively.

In terms of climate change, Namibia’s resource mobilization towards the climate change mitigation and adaptation measures have improved drastically since 2015. To date, the Fund has mobilized about USD 90 million.

Good governance

Namibia lauds itself on the global gender gap index rankings, being number 6 out of 156 countries. Further strides were made with regards to women representation adopted by the ruling party, attributed to the “zebra-style” gender representation in parliament which has seen the Namibian bicameral parliament having 48% of its members as women since the 2019 Elections. Namibia ranks number one in Africa for the World Press Freedom index owing to public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Lessons learned

Integration and alignment of the SDGs in national development frameworks: Namibia mainstreamed and integrated the SDG implementation into NDP 5 to secure successful implementation.

Partnership: Extensive consultations with all stakeholders, all citizens in setting of policies and priorities, including parliamentarians, are key in the domestication, ownership, and continuity of the SDGs.

Affirmation of Commitment

Amongst other efforts, Namibia launched the Development Finance Assessment (DFA) Report in 2021, as part of the holistic approach on the financing frameworks in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans.

Voluntary National Review 2018

Namibia recognizes the importance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and attesting to this is the role she played in their formulation processes, specifically the intra-Africa processes that culminated in an African common negotiating instrument called the Common African Position (CAP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a process wherein she served as a member of the High- Level Committee (HLC) representing the African sub-region and thus contributing to the SDGs finalisation. Added to that and particularly appreciative of the need to keep track of the global agenda’s implementation status, Namibia, joined by 47 other UN member-states, volunteered to submit her first (1st) SDGs Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2018.

Accordingly, this VNR is a product of Namibia’s commitment towards the integration and implementation of the SDGs. Moreover our commitment is reflected in the processes that the country has undertaken to ensure the full integration of the SDGs into national development documents; particularly the 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) which is informed by the long-term national developmental framework for Namibia, Vision 2030. An extensive campaign was undertaken to sensitize the Namibian community on both the SDGs and Agenda 2063; and the need to have them domesticated.

In terms of Monitoring and Evaluation of progress regarding SDGs implementation, existing national structures are utilised to ensure harmonised reporting and accountability to avoid parallel processes. A baseline report was compiled to provide the data status on the SDGs’ indicators which allowed Namibia to be able to report on progress. Furthermore, Namibia commits herself to complete the development of the National Indicator Framework that will provide key meta-data on all the indicators that will be used for monitoring and reporting thereof.

Progress on the implementation of the SDGs

Namibia prides herself on the milestones reached with respect to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is in this same spirit that she commits herself to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The institutionalization of the SDGs has been well done as embedded in the current 5th National Development Plan (NDP5). The Plan focuses on Economic Progression; Social Transformation; Environmental Sustainability; and Good Governance which consequently takes into account the SDGs’ pillars of People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership.

Namibia continues to register commendable milestones in terms of progress on several indicators. However, it is important to note that there are several challenges that are currently impeding progress regarding the implementation and achievement of the Goals. The following are the key milestones and corresponding challenges to date:

Economic progression, inequality and end poverty in all its forms everywhere

The Gini-Coefficient has improved over the past five years from 0.58 to 0.56. This can be attributed to the pro-poor policies and programmes that the Namibia has put in place. In addition, over the past 10 years (2008-2017), Namibia continued to register significant progress regarding economic growth averaging 3.7% annually. This is credited to the country’s efforts to stimulate economic activities through government expenditure and foreign investment. Namibia has managed to decrease the level of poverty over the last decade resulting in a drop from 28.8% to 17.4%. This is attributed to concerted efforts geared towards ensuring that, ‘no one is left behind’.

However, whilst inequality has over the course of time decreased; there levels remains high resulting in Namibia being classified among the top 10 most unequal countries in the world. There are still huge disparities in terms of who has access to sustainable income, productive assets, food, water, energy, and basic services. Whilst economic growth had consistently been recorded, the paradoxical is that that growth had not translated into commensurate employment opportunities, resulting in high unemployment rates on the one side and increased levels of inequality on the other.

In terms of economic growth, over the past 2 years (2016 and 2017), the economic growth has slowed and is projected at 1.2 and 2.1% in 2018 and 2019 respectively, thereby negatively impacting on industrial and investment growth. Rural poverty has reduced significantly from 34% to 25.1%, although still remains a challenge, therefore much needs to be done to ensure that rural communities are emancipated.

Achieve gender equality (including equity) and empower women and girls

Over the course of the MDGs and the period transiting into the SDGs to date, Namibia had done well regarding gender equity and equality in the spheres of education, political representation, land rights, including policy and legislation. Women’s access to economic and productive resources has improved since independence. To date, according to the Global Gender Gap Report, women account for 35 percent of the wage employment in the agriculture sector and 51 percent of women are employed in the informal sector. Additionally, 27 percent of privately owned firms have female top managers and 43 percent of parliamentarians are women; and this represents an improvement from 25 percent in 2010. Furthermore, in the public sector, women in managerial positions account for 43 percent in relation to 57 percent of men. In terms of governance there are currently 22 women ministers (members of the executive), which represents 40%.

As part of the work to be done going forward, the proportion of women partaking in science and other high paying fields remain low; there are few women in positions of leadership compared to men. High poverty rates among women coupled with high unemployment rates poses a challenge to the attainment of gender equality and the economic empowerment of women. School retention rates remain low for both girls and boys, as more learners continue to drop out of school as they progress from primary to secondary schools. This requires that Namibia, in order to achieve the desired skills levels, seriously consider addressing this anomaly.

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education

Namibia continues to do well and managed to attain the targets for universal access to primary education, literacy rates, and gender parity in terms of enrolment at all school levels. In this regard, enrolment has grown exponentially over a period spanning 10 years. Namibia’s gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education 16.2% in 2016 is above sub-Saharan African standards of 8.2 percent.

Survival rates over the last five years are estimated at 90% and above for primary education. However, only 87% of the leaners over the last five years have survived to Grade eight dropping further to 75% for grade nine and 67% for Grade ten while less than half (43%) of the learners survived to Grade twelve.

However, the quality of instruction is often unsatisfactory, especially in schools serving poor communities. At the secondary level, there are unacceptably high rates of repetition. In the most remote, rural areas, drop-out rates are an extreme concern.

In general, the quality of teaching is a major issue. The transition from secondary to higher education is very low, currently estimated at 19% of the grade 12 cohorts. At tertiary education level, quality and relevance of university education has been a serious concern of both private and public sector employers. Post-graduate education continues to be underdeveloped and its contribution to research and innovation remains small. Considerable inequalities of access to university education remain in terms of social class, geographical location, marginalized groups as well as those with special needs and disabilities.

Ensure healthy lives to promote well-being for all

For the period under the MDGs, including the transition to the SDGs, significant progress has been recorded in areas of HIV and AIDS (prevalence 13.3%, new infections reduced by 50% and treatment coverage of 95%); TB incidence has dropped; improvement in life expectancy to 65 years; and access to health has improved.

As regards communicable deceases, particularly Malaria incidences, significant progress had been recorded, however such progress had since been reversed due to the recent floods and cross border movements between Angola and Namibia in particular.

Additionally, as of the latest official data (DHS, 2013), Namibia remain seized with challenges around stunting which stands at 24%; anaemia at 48%; and neonatal mortality stands at 20/1000 live births. This calls for concerted efforts by Namibia to achieve its aspired goals in the health sector.

Some of the other key challenges in the health sector are a consequence of pandemic outbreaks that Namibia has been experiencing over the past three years, which necessitate drastic change in focus and innovative financing modules for both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Promote and build effective, accountable and inclusive public institutions for efficient governance and public service delivery

Namibia continues to augur well on the international stage when it comes to governance. This is further substantiated by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance which scored Namibia at 81 in 2012 and subsequently improved to 83.9 in 2016. Continentally, this earns Namibia the 5th highest score in good governance out of 54 African nations. Furthermore, Transparency International recognises Namibia as the third most transparent country in Africa, while on the global level; it ranks 53 out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index.

Nevertheless, domestically, public service delivery remains a challenge as the public perception index reflects a low rate when it comes to satisfaction of Namibians in regards of public service delivery. The supply of serviced land remains very low which artificially inflates its price, thus inhibiting access by ordinary Namibians. This leads to limited access to decent housing and the mushrooming of informal settlements in urban settings. Sixty-five percent of Namibians have expressed their dissatisfaction with Government efforts to fight corruption in the country.

Promote sustainable agriculture, Combat climate change, and ensure sustainable management of water and sanitation

Namibia has done very well regarding access to safe drinking water in both rural and urban areas, where access is at 98% on average. Namibia continues to invest resources in building resilience in terms of agriculture and food production. This has led to an increase in areas of land under productive agriculture i.e. the Green Scheme. It is widely held globally, continentally and nationally that Namibia is a wildlife conservation success story, particularly through the effective implementation of the Community-Based Natural Resources Management Programme (CBNRM) which empowers communities to meaningfully and legally manage; use; and benefit from natural resources.

However, Namibia’s vulnerability to climate change has seen the gains made in the agricultural sector reversed, as the persistent occurrence of drought and floods have led to reduction in food production in the country, leaving 25% of the population food insecure. Moreover, climate change continues to exacerbate land degradation while also impacting on marine resources.

Moreover, as water-borne sewerages are the main sanitation system in urban areas of Namibia while dry sanitation system is mainly used in rural areas, nationally, only 54% of the households have access to improved sanitation. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas where only 28% of the households have access to improved sanitation facilities and an alarming rate 71% of households practice open defecation. Low access to improved sanitation constitutes a serious public-health problem.

Strategies to address challenges

Some of the strategies adopted by Namibia to address challenges with regards to the achievement of the various SDG goals are as follows:
Economic progression, inequality and end poverty in all its forms everywhere

In efforts addressing poverty, Namibia has initiatives in place to promote value addition to grow the economy and thereby create employment. This is complemented by the initiatives to invest in education and skills to ensure that a large number of the population have access to employment opportunities. In addressing rural poverty that remains high, Namibia has a strategy to develop and promote community based and social enterprises through incentivising the private sector to invest in the rural economy.

Achieve gender equality (including equity) and empower women and girls

In empowering women and girls, the main initiative being taken is to mainstream informal businesses led by women to ensure financial inclusion for women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, especially in agri-business and extractive industries.

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education

In addressing access to higher education, Namibia has put up measures to widen access to higher education through equity and inclusion by focusing on increasing higher education institution intakes from rural areas and marginalized groups. This is done through intensified public awareness programs and availability of student financing.

Ensure healthy lives to promote well-being for all

Namibia is strengthening the implementation of Regional extension centres and ensure reach out to all districts countrywide for immunization of all types. Developing a multi-sectoral approach for prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases is also another strategy Namibia is taking in efforts to promote the wellbeing of her people, through strengthening medicines supply management system and even health training institutions.

Promote and build effective, accountable and inclusive public institutions for efficient governance and public service delivery

Efforts to improve public service delivery are being implemented through initiatives to accelerate some basic services such as land servicing and housing supply. In its current Plans, Namibia aims to accelerate the provision of housing processes and delivery through embracing PPPs, and new financial resources for rural housing scheme.

Promote sustainable agriculture, Combat climate change, and ensure sustainable management of water and sanitation

Namibia is committed to build resilient to climate change through enhancing preparedness to natural disasters such as flood and drought impacts. In addressing sanitation challenges, Namibia promote coordinated investment on sanitation infrastructure (new and maintenance of existing infrastructure) by ensuring that resources are allocated accordingly and that advocacy to stimulate behavioural change around hygiene especially at the community levels are strengthened.


Namibia remains committed to the realisation of the SDGs and will continue to invest resources to ensure that targets, as set for the specific goals, are achieved. Domestic resources and, in the spirit of the Global Partnership for the SDGs as embedded in Goal 17, international support continues to be mobilized to ensure effective implementation of national developmental programmes that will enable the attainment of the goals.

Focal point
Mr. Ned Sibeya
Deputy Chief: National Development Advice
Development Partners' Coordination
National Planning Commission
Namibian Presidency
Tel: +264 81 149 5949

Mr. Nandiuasora "Nandi" Mazeingo
National Development Adviser & SDGs National FFocal Point
UN Development System Coordination Office
Development Partners' Coordination
National Planning Commission
Tel: +264 81 465 5780
Documents & Reports

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Namibia is listed as a partner or lead entity in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform
Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme

Namibia's Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (1996) is a combination of policy and legal reforms, which includes the granting of resource rights to local members of communal conservancies. Source: World Resources Institute (2011) A Compilation of Green Economy Policies, Programs, and Initiatives from Around the World. The Green Economy in Practice: Interactive Workshop 1, February 11th, 2011 Namibia's establishment of conservancies - legally gazetted areas within the state's communal lands - is among the most successful efforts by developing nations to decentralize natura...[more]

Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations