When the University of Namibia and the Fredrich-Ebert Stiftung launched the Forum for Experts on Social Protection in 2017, the stage was set for monthly public lectures which were delivered by both local and international social protection practitioners, researchers and academics.
I vividly remember that we started small – Kenandei ‘Kapara’ Tjivikua (Social Protection Expert), Hienne Neumann (FES), Inge Neunda (FES), Dr Tom Fox (Unam) and myself (Unam) – and from the onset, we held a vision of putting together selected papers into a book, after having them peer-reviewed to separate publishable and non-publishable material.
That dream was realised last week when social protection practitioners, academics and members of the public gathered together at Fredrick Ebert-Stiftung offices in Windhoek to witness the launch of the book ‘Perspectives on Namibia’s Social Protection, 2017-2020’, a compilation of sixteen papers presented during the public lectures at the University of Namibia during the stated period. The book was compiled and edited by Professor Trywell Kalusopa, a leading academic at the University of Namibia, and Olga Katjiuongua, a veteran social protection expert and researcher.
Endorsing the book ‘Perspectives on Namibia’s Social Protection, 2017-2020’, guest of honour, Information and Communication Technology Minister Dr Peya Mushelenga said this book comes at the right time since social protection is one of the issues that has not received adequate coverage in academic publications. He emphasised that social protection should be appropriately aimed at combating the unacceptable levels of social deprivation and poverty, thereby ensuring access to education, health care, food security, income security, and decent living conditions.
“This book provides a historical perspective of social protection in Namibia and how it is linked to the history of social protection in the world. Historical perspectives are important not only as narratives for providing information about the past and contributing to the literature on history, but also for providing a better contextual understanding of the evolution for providing development schemes, issues and circumstances,” Mushelenga said, adding that the efforts of Unam and Fredrich Ebert-Stiftung are commendable for this ‘ground-breaking study’.
It is equally important that the book investigates the sociological aspect of social protection from a socio-cultural outlook and contemporary circumstances, including the plethora of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also discussions about the plight of the youths and women in society, and what social protection schemes that would be suitable for them in their usually dire circumstances.
It was appropriate that the launch of the book was also graced by Dr Alfons Mosimane, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Namibia, under which the Social Sciences Department falls. This Department is responsible for organising public lectures in collaboration with Fredrich Ebert-Stiftung.
Mosimane paid tribute to the authors of different chapters who painstakingly researched issues on social protection and put to paper their facts and arguments in a scholarly manner. “There is no doubt that under the topic of this nature, social protection, the researchers had to plough through huge amounts of quantitative and qualitative data to support their argumentation. Equally, the work of the editors of this volume needs to be acknowledged as they meticulously took the task of arranging the chapters into these meaningful themes: Social Protection and National Development; Social Protection and Informality; Social Protection and Labour/Employment; and last Social Protection and Regional/Continental/Global Dimension,” Mosimane remarked.
This thematic approach makes the deconstruction and understanding of social protection in Namibia effortless and easily accessible. What makes this publication rich is that the contributors come from diverse backgrounds. This means that there are different but complementary social protection perspectives that were interrogated, hence the title of the book ‘Perspectives on Namibia’s Social Protection’.
In other words, the chapters in the book form a collective social protection discourse community, that is, this project kept a scholarly community together, and it is envisaged that this community will remain together and offer or produce another book project on social protection.
For the reader, part of the blurb of the book reads: “This publication is useful to policymakers as it appraises them on possible interventions that could be adopted to expand and strengthen social protection schemes. Comparative analyses with trends in the global arena enable academics, researchers and policymakers to understand not only the workability of the schemes, but also the design of the model that is suitable for Namibia. .. This is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about social protection in Namibia”.
All in all, this is one of the most successful collaborations that Fredrich Ebert-Stiftung has undertaken with a local higher education institution. The book is available on demand at the Fredrich Ebert-Stiftung offices in Windhoek. Government departments, non-governmental organisations, institutions, schools, policymakers, academics and researchers can order copies from FES.