Members of the deaf community have expressed their disappointment with the Green Hydrogen project because they feel excluded from the ongoing engagements and discussions.
“Namibia is home to many deaf persons and we are scattered around the vast part of Namibia, however, there is little information coming to the deaf community about the GH2. We are not informed at the moment and do not know much about the projects”.
These were the words of Namibia National Association of the Deaf National Director Linekela Paul Nanyeni while responding to questions sent to him by this publication on how well the deaf community is informed about the much talked about green hydrogen project in the country.
He said the industry needs to make sure that deaf persons are made aware of the projects and how they can participate, because at the moment that has not happened and is very concerning and believes that there is still a need to raise more awareness on inclusivity.
“We are preaching inclusions every day and supporting persons with disabilities. However, what we are not doing right is addressing disability as a non-one-size-fits-all issue,” he said.
Nanyeni says there is little open discussion about the project with persons with disabilities and the Deaf community in general while arguing that when there are discussions for licenses and other benefits, that’s when the government wants to engage persons with disabilities to use them either as “proxies” or members in the pretext of being inclusive and granted the right holders, only then to change things later or secretly operate without involving the persons who made it possible to get access.
“Look at the fishing rights, women, vulnerable persons, persons with disabilities and veterans are used to getting access and they are not truly benefiting,” argued Nanyeni.
He is of the view that government officials need to study their policies and other international policies in place to educate themselves on how best they can comply with such decisions while referring to the Harambee Prosperity Plan that speaks about no one being left behind.
He stressed that inclusivity is the crucial vehicle which they need to ride and that once everyone is on board, that’s when they will discover that everyone has a role to play and contribution to make.
“We need to include persons with disabilities and Deaf in all developmental projects and also define how we are to benefit from such projects, “he explained.
Currently, the government and Hyphen Energy have embarked on a national roadshow across the country that seeks to engage all communities in all regions however, this remains to be seen if the deaf community will also be catered to.
Questions sent to both the Green Hydrogen Chairperson Obeth Kandjoze and Commissioner James Mnyupe were not answered at the time of going to print.