• July 4th, 2020

Shack dwellers are doing it for themselves

Lorato Khobetsi-Slinger

Provision of decent housing is an inaccessible dream for many Namibians. However, a group of residents from Aranos are closer to realising their dreams of owning decent houses. 

The individuals, who are part of a savings group under the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, meet every day to make bricks that will be used to construct proper houses for themselves and their families.
Twenty-six residents from a low-income group in the town were recently approved to construct houses with the assistance of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia and Standard Bank’s Buy-a-Brick initiative. 
According to the chairperson of the “Ada /gui” saving group, Willem Dirkse, the list of beneficiaries was approved in December and the members of his group recently started meeting every day to make bricks to speed up the construction of their houses. 

“My group consists of 48 members, and we have started to make the bricks. As a group, we come together and we start making bricks for one house before we move on to the next house,” said Dirkse.
There are more than 32 saving groups with 889 members in the Hardap region who have saved over N$399 000, while Aranos has three saving groups with 90 members. 

“The Shack Dwellers Federation is there to accommodate people with a low income; this is an ongoing saving group. Just because you reach N$2 000 doesn’t mean you have to stop – this is an ongoing process. We have a group saving account and treasurers who report back to us at our weekly meetings,” he said.

He said in order to qualify to benefit from the Federation, one needs to be from a low-income group, regularly attend group meetings, as well as partake in group activities.

“These groups are to help people to come out of shacks and to improve and upgrade their living conditions. That is why the Shack Dwellers Federation is there. One cannot have the money today and expect to be approved tomorrow. At the end of the day, it is hard work and we are all struggling,” he added.
Dirkse further urged the community of Aranos, especially the youth, to join the Federation in order to move out of their shacks into decent housing structures.

The houses are expected to be completed in the next three months at a cost of N$33 000 per house. Beneficiaries have the option to repay their loans from the Namibia Housing Action Group for 11 years, 15 years or 20 years.  The Aranos Town Council also gave the members of the Federation 60% discount off the erven. 

Speaking at the official launch of the brick-making event, the mayor of Aranos Town Council, Elden Kuhanga, said the town council has availed 100 erven for the programme. The council will also pilot the new locally manufactured smart prepaid water meters to help the council eliminate the accumulation of water debts. 

“The meters can be programmed to help the council collect recoverable debts; they also help detect leakages on time. We are now piloting the meters for three months and we hope to expand the usage to the entire town in the next few years,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development Derek Klazen said “Housing, or rather the shortage thereof, in our country is a very emotive subject. Hundreds of thousands of our people are living in deplorable conditions and we are working harder to find resources to ensure that all Namibians are owners of decent houses”.

The Shack Dwellers Federation has built more than 5 800 houses countrywide and over 435 houses in the Hardap region since its inception in 1998.

Staff Reporter
2020-02-26 07:16:17 | 4 months ago

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