Plans are at an advanced stage by Standard Bank to transform its popular Buy-a-Brick initiative into a Trust to make it more sustainable and explore alternative cost-effective ways of constructing houses for shack dwellers. This was revealed during the handing over of houses to 32 beneficiaries at Rupara settlement, which is situated 70km from Rundu in the Kavango East region and 50km from Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West region.
Speaking at the handing over of the 32 houses, Standard Bank’s public relations and communications manager, Isack Hamata, said plans are at an advanced stage to formalise the Buy-a-Brick initiative into a Trust. He said the Trust will enable corporates to be represented as trustees to drive fundraising campaigns and chart its future sustainability.
“By so doing, the corporates will feel a part of the initiative and not just look at themselves as mere donors. They will drive the growth of the initiative to ensure that it completely assumes a life of its own,” Hamata said. He added: “The Trust will be one sure way of ensuring the sustainability and longevity of the initiative, but most importantly we are sure that it will help us to hasten the pace of raising funds, building houses and getting our people out of shacks and other sub-standard dwellings in a shorter time.”
Hamata also announced that besides the registration of the Buy-a-Brick Trust Standard Bank was also actively exploring alternative ways of accelerating the delivery of adequate housing through the use of cost-effective building materials.
He said the bank recently launched the BioHab project at Brakwater outside Windhoek and has been testing indigenous “encroacher bush” that is choking essential natural water aquifers, wildlife and cattle grazing lands. The bush is harvested to create substrate (food) for mushroom farming. According to Hamata, gourmet, nutritious mushrooms are grown and harvested, and the resulting material left behind is compacted into sustainable, ecologically friendly building materials.
According to Hamata, these building materials, if tested successfully, will be used to construct houses for the Buy-a-Brick initiative and for delivery to the members of the Shack Dwellers Federation.
With regard to next year’s programme, he said the initiative will intensify and accelerate its fundraising efforts to reach the initial of 1 000 per year. Due to Covid-19, fundraising efforts were kept at a minimum but will be championed vigorously next year.
Meanwhile, Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni officiated at the handing over of the 32 Buy-a-Brick houses to their beneficiaries.
He commended the Buy-a-Brick initiative for mobilising corporate support to build houses for shack dwellers, stating that government’s resources will never be enough to address all of society’s needs.
“Conventional housing is very expensive today but with this partnership, including new and alternative building methods that are being explored, I am hopeful that we will in future be able to take thousands more people out of shacks and put them into decent housing structures,” he observed. The minister also launched the construction of 33 new houses at Rupara with the process expected to be completed by end of February 2021.
Standard Bank started the Buy-a-Brick initiative in 2015 to raise funds started for the construction of houses for members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia. Standard Bank has mobilised a number of corporate entities as well as its own staff to make annual contributions to the initiative. So far, an amount of N$20 million was raised to enable the construction of 600 houses in 13 towns across the country.