SWAKOPMUND - Local authorities must go back to their founding mandate, which is to serve communities through the provision of affordable land and housing, by partnering with institutions such as the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and other investors.
This sentiment was expressed by Katrina Shimbulu, the president of the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN), who was speaking to New Era at the recent ALAN conference at Walvis Bay.
She reiterated that there is currently a mismatch of what is needed and what is currently available in terms of provision of land and housing.
Statistics shared with the community land information project that is coordinated by the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) indicate there are currently 308 informal settlements in Namibia with an estimated 228 000 shacks populated with 995 000 people.
Shimbulu noted that although local authorities are not entirely responsible for the provision of housing, they could play a more vigorous role with the provision of land, by setting up revolving credit funds and embracing alternative housing.
Currently, Shimbulu said, the needs of specifically ultra-low and middle-income earners are not being met.
“Initiatives by some local authorities to address housing and land needs in the country also turn out to be too costly for these two segments. Hence, we are seeing so many empty houses as it is too costly for our people,” explained the ALAN president.
“What’s currently in the housing market clearly does not speak to our people that earn less than N$5 000.” Thus, she says, there is a need to explore initiatives such as alternative housing and revolving credit funds that will allow low-income earners to acquire land.
She added that they are currently busy with a feasibility study to see how local authorities will tackle the country’s housing challenges.
“In the meantime, I would like to urge local authorities to be flexible and accommodative in terms of investors instead of delaying. Let us be mindful to the needs of our people and let us continue to support initiatives such as the Shack Dwellers Federation and Build Together programme,” she said.
According to her it is possible to build houses for less than N$100 000. Thus, she says, local authorities should be more receptive to alternative houses while institutions such as NHE should also go back to their mandate to address the current housing challenge.