Major boost for San rights campaign in Namibia

Launch of new coalition to promote and protect San rights

Richard Lee's picture

Author

Strategic communications for WWF

August 31st, 2012

The fight for the rights of the indigenous San people in Namibia has just received a major boost with the formation of the San Support Organisations’ Association of Namibia (SSOAN).

Launched in Windhoek today, SSOAN brings together international, national and community-based NGOs, multilateral and bilateral donors, and research and training institutions to promote the rights of the San in Namibia, improve coordination of the various San support initiatives and harmonize the approaches to San development.

More specifically, SSOAN will work to coordinate the various San support initiatives to ensure that there is better planning and implementation – and much greater impact.

SSOAN will also facilitate the development of appropriate San-related policies and programmes; ensure that information is shared and disseminated; serve as a national body of expertise for San-related issues; and liaise with the government – particularly with the Office of the Prime Minister, but also with other ministries and agencies that are tasked with San-related policies and initiatives.

The new platform also provides an opportunity to align the work of the different stakeholders with international standards, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Initially, SSOAN will focus on three key themes – Human Rights; Education and Health; and, Land and Livelihoods.

The idea of SSOAN was first discussed back in 2009 when different organisations, working to support the San in Namibia, decided to form a platform to encourage better cooperation and collaboration. The platform allowed members to highlight their on-going activities as well as to share lessons learnt and best practices. In 2011, the decision was taken to formalise the platform and to establish an association.

SSOAN consists of full-voting members and non-voting observers. The full –voting members can only be NGOs, associations, and research and training institutions that are based in Namibia. Observers may include non-Namibian NGOs, donor agencies, individuals and other institutions that are active in the field of San support.

The founding members of SSOAN are the Centre for Research Information Action in Africa Southern African Development and Consulting, Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, Forum for African Women Educationalists in Namibia, HABITAFRICA, Legal Assistance Centre, Namibia Association of Norway, Namibia Red Cross Society, Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia and the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa.

And there are currently four observers – the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, International Labour Organisation, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, and UNESCO.

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