To save their poultry business, a couple in Havana informal settlement on the northern outskirt of Windhoek, have resorted to keeping their more than 248 chickens in the bedroom at night due to thievery.
The couple who are solely dependent on their chickens business said they took an unorthodox decision to share sleeping space with chickens due to restriction put in place by the City of Windhoek that bans settlers from extending their shacks.
According to Olivia Shinoveni, they have decided to sleep next to their chickens because people have resorted to stealing them. The couple had three children, of which two are living with relatives in northern Namibia and they are only living with their one-year-old daughter.
Shinoveni explained that they bought two chickens in 2015 to start a poultry business and the birds have since multiplied to over 240 birds.
They have been sharing sleeping space with the chickens since 2017 to save them from criminal elements in the area.
“We used to keep them outside but people started stealing them at night while we were asleep. That situation has forced us to bring them in our room because that is the only means of survival we have,” the couple explained.
Unfortunately, they could not extend their shack as doing so is against rules and regulations of the City of Windhoek that prohibit any extension or upgrade of shacks within this block.
However, they have written to the City of Windhoek last year in October seeking authority to extend their shack to accommodate their growing poultry business but are yet to get a response.
“We have received the acknowledgement letter to our request that informed us that the officials will come and investigate the situation before they have permitted us to extend. We have been waiting until now there is no answer,” the husband maintained.
City of Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu recently visited the settlement to assess the situation of people who applied for the extensions of their shacks.
Kahungu explained that the couple‘s situation needed urgent intervention because it is not conducive to share a bedroom with chickens.
“You can see that these are law-abiding people who trust the municipality. However, I am very much disappointed that the officials can take a year to come and access the situation. This is very bad. These people need help,” she fumed in presence of the City police officials that accompanied her to the location.
Kahungu, however, explained that restrictions were meant to minimise land grabbing but certain situations need to be exempted.
“In our culture, we do not sleep next to chickens. They spread diseases and this child is at risk. Officials, let us give these people a chance to solve this problem,” she reiterated.
Some of the shacks that were given authority to extend are the ones with leakage issues, sectioned with plastics inside and those that are overcrowded.