Urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni stressed to financiers in the private sector that people need shelter and not luxury homes that trigger housing costs and leave out low-income earners who are in need of housing.
Uutoni was speaking last week during a housing symposium arranged by the Economic Association on Namibia, with the aim to get solutions to the challenge of affordable housing in Namibia.
“Let us not decorate houses but rather let’s build houses for low-income earners. We need to accommodate everyone according to their income. People will develop their homes with their time and houses will earn value with time,” he urged.
He emphasised that developers should build houses that are affordable for the needy group, looking at the housing backlog in Namibia.
Uutoni stated that long standing government initiatives have yielded some results such as the mass housing development program that was launched in November 2013, as an intervention aimed at reducing the housing backlog in the country.
“We are busy making sure those houses are occupied. The programme is being continued under the current leadership with its deliverables forming part of HPP II and the fifth national development plan. To date, the programme has delivered 2 933 houses with 891 remaining to be completed,” outlined the minister.
He added the central government still has plans to continue making sure Namibians get decent housing. According to him, a total budgetary allocation of N$433.6 million is available for local authorities to provide basic municipal services and infrastructure during this financial year.
“We know this is very small, given the magnitude of the problems that we are trying to solve namely: the lack of access to water, sewer, electricity and other basic services in most localities in the country, and with a special focus on informal settlement,” said Uutoni.
With proper targeting, alignment, and complementary support with the private financial and construction sector, he believes the country can still achieve more with properly structured win to win partnership arrangements.
Also, a budgetary allocation of N$10 million and N$5 million has been allocated to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia and the National Housing Enterprises (NHE), respectively, to scale up their land and housing delivery efforts especially targeting low-income earners.
The ministry also plans to review the mass housing development program on housing development blueprint as well as the national housing policy.
On the same occasion, Ongos Valley Development chairperson Reagon Graig said the much-hyped development which is measuring 1 750 hectares in size, will provide over 28 000 medium cost residential units at completion. He added the first phase will provide 4 500 units, while creating over 14 000 employment opportunities.
According to Graig, the development will unlock and boost the local economy with N$4.3 billion investment. Ongos is located in the northwestern corridor just 14 kilometres from Windhoek’s central business district, west of Nubuamis.
Last month, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) president McHenry Venaani, while motivating his motion to debate alternative housing financing schemes, described the Namibian housing situation as distressing, specifically informal settlements that he said are
Venaani believes the existing formal housing market does not readily cater to the majority of Namibians by virtue of their income level. According to him, the clearest evidence of this predicament is found in the mushrooming of informal settlements, which are often unplanned and lead to socio-economic consequences such as disease outbreaks, lack of economic opportunities, and pollution.