Forty-five households in the Oohambo dhaNehale informal settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek use one toilet.
The residents of the area nestled in the Havana location, named after the legendary king of Ondonga Nehale lya Mpingana who reigned from 1884 until his death in 1908, said they have lived with the problem for years and are ready to kick up a stink about the lack of services in their area.
They told New Era that they often use the riverbed to relieve themselves.
Immanuel Ngiidipaa has been residing in Oohambo dhaNehale for eight years, and said the challenges that one toilet for so many people can bring are numerous.
“Sometimes when you want to use the toilet, you will find people queuing because a lot of people want to use that one toilet,” he lamented.
They are also afraid that the toilet which everyone uses could cause the spread of diseases.
In March 2020, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 61 Hepatitis E deaths were reported nationally, including 24 (39%) in pregnant or postpartum women. Among all reported cases, 6 068 (84%) were reported from the Khomas and Erongo regions, which have large informal settlements. Specifically, 2,677 (37%) cases were reported from three of Namibia’s largest informal settlements, Havana and Goreangab (both in the Khomas region), and the Democratic Resettlement Community (Erongo).
“Because of increased rural-urban migration, many low-income workers live in informal settlements with substandard housing and poor sanitation,” said the report.
“We live in the location with no electricity. If you want to go to the toilet at night, it is very dark, so you are at high risk of being raped or killed,” said community leader Josephine Nelenge.
She said several robberies, assaults and attempted rape incidents have occurred there.
The councillor of the Moses
//Garoeb constituency Aili Venonya said her office has been receiving the complaints about the shortage of toilets at the location.
Venonya said she has been writing letters to the mayor’s office at the City of Windhoek, asking that residents of this location be given enough toilets. However, she did not get any feedback until now.
In July 2020 during the state of the region address, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua reported that 65 toilets at N$1.9 million had been built in the informal settlements on the periphery of Namibia’s capital city.
She was, however, immediately contradicted by the councillor of the Tobias Hainyeko constituency, Christoph Likuwa, who said no toilets were built in his area.
According to the Borgen Project, a Washington-based NGO, Namibia has the lowest levels of sanitation coverage in southern Africa. Only 34% of the country’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities. That percentage drops to 14% in the country’s rural areas. The practice of open defecation, which occurs in 14% of urban areas and 77% of rural areas, increases the spread of diseases and majorly impacts general health.
City of Windhoek spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said the office of the mayor has noticed the challenges of toilet shortages in many places, especially in the Havana location.
She explained that the city has allocated N$104 million for the year 2021-22 for informal settlement upgrading.
“We would like to urge our residents
to also safeguard the municipal facilities in their communities because we have experienced cases of vandalism and theft, and these contribute to the shortages of these facilities,” Amutenya added.