TSUMEB - The outskirts of Tsumeb in the Oshikoto region embodies all the woes of over-urbanisation.
The community has no toilets and electricity, while poor roads and the sight of residents queuing for water is a common one.
This is Kuvukiland - Tsumeb’s biggest informal settlement. Driving in the area is near impossible, especially for small cars, due to rocky surfaces.
Fuelled by a lack of electricity supply, crime is also rife in this community, especially at night.
Residents claim a person died last month while being transported to a local hospital in a wheelbarrow.
These highlight the serious problems facing the community. The death incident allegedly happened during the day, as no cars can easily access the area, including taxis. The settlement harbours over 11 000 people, who scramble for water at less than 10 community taps. Anguish and absolute frustration overshadows the area, complemented by the residents’ total resentment of poor service delivery by the municipality. Next to the ramshackle, where a group of men and women had gathered, lies a heap of discarded rubbish, while adjacent to that is a communal tap, which provides the community with potable water. Lack of sanitation remains a serious problem and children can be seen playing in contaminated water, raising the prospect of diseases. Residents like Olifant Gideon say they have made peace with the reality, and have lost all hope for a better life. “Now it is the time that we are going to show how tired and angry we have become,” said Gideon. Another resident immediately points to a three-year-old boy relieving himself in the rubble a few metres away. “You see, that is where everyone goes whenever nature calls, it is not a secret, the bush is all we have. In the same manner, it is very dangerous, as our women and young girls are being raped. We are not safe, this area is besieged by all sorts of evil activities, all because of lack of services,” stated Albanus Shoopala. “I don’t have a reason to vote, those that are benefiting should go to the polls.” The residents, however, want to see the much-needed change, including proper ablution facilities, access to electricity, upgrading of roads and extended water points. “We are not demanding a lot, we just need basic services just like others do, why are we being subjected to poverty when we have voted for leaders,” says Michael Shifiola.
Meanwhile, Tsumeb mayor Mathews Hangula acknowledged the dire state, saying plans are underway to formalise the area. According to Hangula, at the moment, it is difficult to provide such services without a plan in place. On electricity, he said Cenored would soon issue a tender to electrify a portion of Kuvukiland, which he says will be done in phases. “We have NUST and the Shack Dwellers Federation in town as we speak to present the blueprint plan for Kuvukiland, and once this is done, that is when we will kick-start some upliftment of the area. The community is informed of all these development, therefore they should be calm and patient as well as understand that we are under economic crisis, hence our hands are financially tied to implement some projects,” stressed Hangula. In terms of sanitation, the mayor hit back saying, council does not generate waste, hence the garbage flooding the area was the making of its residents. He added that the municipality provides refuse removal, an assertion strongly denied by the community. “The same applies to water, we will extend this year as well as in the next financial year. Last year, we installed three new community water points. I am appealing to residents to have an attitude change, not to litter everywhere apart from designated points. Currently only section C is mostly affected, but this will be addressed,” he vowed.