13 Mar 2014 18:20pm
By Maggy Thomas
WASHINGTON, 13 MAR (NAMPA) - The United States of America (USA) Peace Corps Chief of Operations for Africa has praised Namibia for being a fantastic host government for American Peace Corps volunteers over the past 24 years.
Carl Swartz thanked the Namibian Government for all the support rendered to the Peace Corps programme in Namibia, which has facilitated about 1 800 volunteers since Namibias independence in 1990.
Swartz said this during a meeting with the Director-General of the National Planning Commission, Tom Alweendo, who met him on behalf of Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob here on Wednesday.
Swartz particularly applauded the Namibian Government for extending the visas of Peace Corps volunteers serving in Namibia.
The visas of the American volunteers are extended by 24 months, meaning their visas are up for renewal after 27 months. In the past, volunteers were given three-month visas.
Each Peace Corps programme runs over two years.
The extension of the timeframe of visas makes our lives and that of the volunteers much easier. Ninety-day visas were logistically cumbersome, as some volunteers had to travel from deep rural areas to town to renew their visas, he stated.
On his part, Alweendo thanked the Peace Corps organisation for sending volunteers to Namibia to serve in different sectors.
He encouraged the organisation to continue sending volunteers to Namibia in efforts to meeting his country's development goals.
Soon after Independence, the Namibian Government requested Peace Corps assistance in meeting the country's development needs, especially in education.
A new assignment was initiated in 2001, which placed volunteers in HIV/AIDS education positions.
Currently, there are 129 volunteers in Namibia, including 19 volunteers who arrived there on Wednesday this week.
About 49 volunteers are serving in education, 16 are partnering with Government ministries and community-based organisations to promote local income-generation and business skills development, while 50 are community health and HIV/AIDS volunteers.
In August 1999, a secessionist uprising forced Peace Corps to close its volunteer sites in the Caprivi strip. Subsequently, a spill-over from the Angolan war in 1999 also forced Peace Corps to close other volunteer sites in the then Kavango Region.
Following a favourable security assessment in these regions, there are now Peace Corps volunteers serving in both regions.
The programme will soon run in 25 countries in Africa, with the comeback of Mali, which was suspended some years ago after conflict erupted in that country.