OKAKARARA – Many of the 140 women who on Friday received their houses through the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia jokingly said they have “made it in life”. The handover happened in Okakarara at a ceremony filled with many smiles, tears and gratitude.
Those beneficiaries who spoke to New Era said they are proud to be called homeowners after they spent many years accommodated in their families’ houses.
More than 140 houses were handed over to members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) during a ceremony officiated by Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Natalia /Goagoses.
The houses were constructed through a smart partnership between the SDFN and the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG), the Buy a Brick project of Standard Bank Namibia, MTC, Mungunda family, Mwadinohamba family and Weder, Kauta and Hoveka.
SDFN member Caroline Kaitjizamine said the federation has so far constructed 248 houses across Okakarara, and 293 in the rural area of Okahitua.
Otjozondjupa has 79 housing groups with 2 525 members, of which 23 groups are from Okakarara with 760 members, and have saved an amount of N$1.8 million.
According to Kaitjizamine, the houses cost about N$32 000 each to build.
The beneficiaries will pay off their loans over 11 to 20 years, at a 5% interest rate.
The deputy minister said the government, through her ministry, believes in and will continue to support the work of community-based organisations such as the SDFN.
“The federation has continuously demonstrated its commitment and ability to contribute to the national drive towards providing affordable housing and proper sanitation to our people, especially those in the ultra-low- and low-income categories. The SDFN’s solution to housing is unique and worth supporting as it is the community taking action to address its own developmental needs. This is a clear testimony of sustainable and people-centred development,” she observed.
The deputy minister added that government and the private sector understand that the activities of the federation offer hope and meaning to the lives of women and children, who after waking up in these homes can hope for a better, safer and more promising future, without the worry of the bad weather destroying their homes.
“More importantly, the efforts of the federation show that the housing challenges can be solved if as stakeholders we do our part. We can only hope that the rest of the private sector can believe in and support community-driven projects.
Our nation is undergoing rapid urbanisation and the demand for urban housing is on a rapid increase, especially among the low-income groups. To successfully address the escalating demands, we need to encourage and support efforts such as those displayed by the SDFN,” she stated.
/Goagoses said the shack dwellers’ determination should not only be seen as a reduction of the housing backlog, but an economic activity brought by a town directly connect to the rural areas.
She noted tthat the construction of the houses might have been done by the community, but the majority of the construction material, consumables and other related services and products were procured from local businesses in Okakarara.
“Therefore, I can only encourage the new homeowners, that when they are improving their homes, please procure local services. Likewise, I implore you to repay your loan to the federation to allow the next person to reap similar benefits as you today,” she continued.
MTC spokesperson Fikameni Mathias urged the beneficiaries to take care of their properties, and asked men to refrain from abusing women and children in those homes.
Standard Bank’s regional manager Frieda Albertse commended the SDFN for the commitment to improving the living conditions of Namibians.