Namibians Are Dying Young

NAMIBIANS in the productive age group of between 25 and 39 years are dying young and painful deaths while the birth rate has been declining.

Statistics unveiled by the Namibia Statistics Agency yesterday which are based on census questions on deaths within households up to the time of the census, show that the youth have been succumbing to gruesome deaths.

The report provides fertility estimates, differentials in fertility levels, nuptiality, adolescent fertility and childlessness. Apart from illness, which is the biggest cause of death in Namibia, people in this age group, according to the statistics, die mostly from accidents, suicide and murder.

Of the 4 311 deaths in this group reported in the 2011 census, 421 were from accidents, 272 as a result of suicide and 158 were murder victims. In terms of all age groups, 22 668 deaths were recorded with illness accounting for 18 000, followed by accidents with 1 613, suicide at 673 and murder 472.

The report showed that 242 infants (0 to four years) died in accidents, 35 were murdered and 24 died as a result of suicide (presumably together with their parents or guardians). In total 4 031 infant deaths were reported including those caused by illnesses.

In the five to 14 age group, accidents caused 175 deaths, murder 11 and suicide 15. In the 15 to 24 age group, accidents resulted in 266 deaths, murder 133 and suicide 137.

In the 40 to 59 group, of the 4 271 deaths recorded, 3 616 were due to illnesses, 280 were caused by accidents, 64 were murder victims and 126 as a result of suicide. The age group with the most deaths is 60 years and above and this was mostly due to illnesses. Of the 6 163 deaths recorded in this age group, illnesses caused 5 669 deaths, accidents 146, murder 32 and suicide 58.

“The next (after illnesses) most common cause of death for males was accidents, which might be explained by behavioural and occupational factors. Females also recorded accidents as the second highest common cause of death.

Pregnancy-related deaths are also notably high,” the report said. Three hundred and seventy five pregnancy related deaths were reported out of 62 046 births.


The report said the life expectancy in Namibia is 53 years for males and 60 for females. The life expectancy for urban dwellers is higher than that of people living in rural areas by more than six years.

The gap between the regions with the highest (Erongo) and the lowest (Kavango) life expectancy is more than 16 years. The report however said there has been an improvement in the life expectancy in general since the 2001 census.


The infant mortality rate for Namibia is 44 deaths per 1000 live births. Most deaths are recorded in rural areas with the Zambezi and Kavango with rates of 74 and 70 respectively. The population policy for 1997 targets to reduce the rate from 57 to 30 per 1000 live births by 2015. The question is whether this target will be realised by 2015, the report said. The rate was 67 in 1991.

The report said the highest percentages of infant deaths were recorded for women who were divorced. The lowest percentage of infant deaths was recorded among women who were married.

“This means that the likelihood of infant death is higher among women who were widowed or divorced, a phenomenon that requires an investigation to determine the causes of infant deaths in this category” the report said.

The report also said mothers with a tertiary and secondary education experienced lower infant deaths.

While the youth are dying, very few babies are being born, with only 67 000 births recorded during the 12 months prior to the 2011 census. The total fertility rate in 2011 was 3,9 children.

Khomas region has the lowest total fertility rate (TFR), with an average woman expected to have three children in her lifetime.

The TFR refers to the number of births a woman expects during her lifetime. The Kunene region has the highest rate with 5,3 children.

Constituencies show even greater variation with Windhoek East having the lowest TFR (2), while Epupa in the Kunene Region has the highest rate of 7,5. The rate recorded in 2001 was 4,1 children.

“The two censuses suggest a continued downward trend in fertility, which confirms findings implied by other sources such as Demographic and Health Surveys,” the report said.

The report noted that the first decline from 2001 to 2011 was not as sharp as that recorded between 1991 and 2001. The second, modest decline from 2001 to 2011 was limited to urban areas. There was little evidence of fertility decline in rural areas. “Thus, Namibia’s population can be expected to grow rapidly in the future. The main factors affecting a woman’s birth rate is her age. Birth rates are notably higher for women aged 20 and 34 than for those of other childbearing age groups. Another important factor is marital status. Married women have a TFR of six, double that of those who are single at 3,1 children. Women in consensual unions have the highest TFR of all 6,3.

Fertility rates also differ depending on the women’s level of education, with childbearing tending to be lower among women with higher levels of education. Homemakers have the highest TFR of 5,9.

The report said among females aged 12 to 14, every thousand females would expect 13 births each year. In the 15 to 19 age group, every thousand females would expect 68 births per year.

In terms of childlessness, by ages 20 to 24, about half of women had never given birth. By ages 40 to 49, about 9% of females had never given birth.

“One surprising findings is that childlessness is not always associated with lower fertility rates,” the report said.

In the report, statistician general John Steytler said the mortality estimates are vital for monitoring the health system of any society, developing policies and implementing and monitoring issues in Namibia.

Source : The Namibian