Caritas Namibia was founded in 1987. It plays an essential role in a country where one third of the population lives on less than $1 a day. Half of Namibia’s population relies on subsistence farming to survive, and HIV/AIDS is hampering agricultural production in some areas. Drought and floods have also affected food resources. Caritas Namibia responds to these problems with several programs: education, capacity building, and emergency aid.
In 1998, Caritas Namibia helped establish Catholic AIDS Action through the Namibian Catholic Bishops’ Conference to address the pressing HIV/AIDS epidemic. This national program assists people living with HIV through home-based family and counseling assistance, access to education for youth, HIV/AIDS prevention, assistance and support for orphans and vulnerable children, counseling and voluntary testing. Its success was highlighted when the government used the program as a model for its HIV and AIDS initiatives.
Caritas Namibia’s capacity-building initiatives include building schools and hospitals, soup kitchens to increase access to food, home-based family support, and campaigns to encourage peacebuilding.
Caritas Namibia would like all church initiatives to be locally owned, managed and funded. To achieve this, the organization provides vocational training and loans to help set up small businesses and obtain seeds and farming equipment.
The Caritas Namibia headquarters in Windhoek is run by a national coordinator and 60 volunteers. In addition, there are 3 diocesan Caritas organizations and 40 parishes in Namibia.
Caritas Namibia is a member of Caritas Africa and Caritas Internationalis.