Windhoek, 4 February 2020 - UN Namibia, through the United Nations Office on Drugs (UNODC), this week hands over a series of new facilities to the Namibia Correctional Service (NCS) to promote skills training and reduce re-offending of prisoners upon their release.
At the Windhoek Correctional Facility, new soap manufacturing machinery has been installed to afford prisoners the opportunity to develop expertise in a business area they can carry on post-release, while at the female centre, sewing and basket making training has been established. Elsewhere, at the Gobabis Correctional Facility, a hydroponics project has been set up to train inmates in sustainable farming practices. Additionally, at the Walvis Bay Correctional Facility, a system has been installed where prisoners are able to create greeting cards to generate income.
The equipment handover forms part of UNODC's prison-based rehabilitation projects under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, which is aimed at helping countries achieve a positive and sustainable impact on crime prevention, criminal justice and promoting the rule of law. In Namibia, the programme focus rests on the component aimed at fostering prisoner rehabilitation and social integration.
During an official ceremony to mark the opening of the soap manufacturing facility in Windhoek, Alejandro Matta, Programme Management Officer, UNODC spoke on the benefit of this training approach, "We know that reoffending rates are highest among those who leave correctional facilities without any income generating skills. The soap and detergent making project that we launch today is one of the innovations not only introduced to equip inmates with useful skills to earn a living, but also to mitigate the high costs of supplying soap and detergents to the prisoners as well as improving the hygiene among the prison population."
The soap manufacturing facility handover includes machinery and raw materials as well as the training of Correctional Officers and prisoners on how to operate the machinery to produce soap and related products. The project will benefit all prisoners in the 13 correctional facilities, positively impacting thousands of inmates.
The self-sustaining soap manufacturing project will produce soap to be used by the inmates, with the surplus to be sold to generate income to invest back into the project. Inmates working on the project will gain valuable vocational skills as well as gratuity to support their families. The equipment is already fully operational, with the first batch of soap produced in late-January.
Through this multi-location partnership between the UN and the NCS - which exemplifies the One UN approach through building synergies between organizations in support of national efforts - inmates at the various facilities are building skills which will foster their employability upon release, successfully integrate into society, and reduce recidivism.
Speaking to this, Correctional Officers at the Gobabis Correctional Facility responsible for the rehabilitation programme have reported improved behaviour, cooperation and team work among inmates spending time in the hydroponic greenhouse. In addition to these aspects, the project is also geared towards challenges being presented in the face of climate change and water scarcity.
Honourable Daniel V. Kashikola, MP, Deputy Minister of Safety and Security expressed gratitude to the United Nations in Namibia for their continued support to the NCS in projects implementation, drawing attention to the advantage the project brings to the country as a whole. "This project aims at conducting mass production of soap bars, washing powder and liquid detergents with adequate supply to all offenders across the NCS, providing enough to sell for an income to sustain the project." He further added, "I am therefore, urging all Government Offices, Ministries, Agencies (OMAs) and private entities to engage the NCS for supply of their cleaning detergents, dish washing liquid, washing powder and bathing soap. I do not doubt the ability of this Soap making project to become the main supply of detergents in the country, especially to the Government OMAS."
UNODC Namibia called on partners and the private sector to support the Namibia Correctional Services to complement the projects and provide support to expand and replicate to other correctional facilities.
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