AROAB - The administrative governance of Aroab Village Council has a zero-tolerance approach towards squatting and this exemplary approach should be emulated by other settlements, villages and towns in Namibia where there is a proliferation of shacks and the problems they bring about.
During a recent interview with New Era, Aroab village council Secretary Elsa Laubscher shared part of her winning formula which qualified her office to receive accolades such as the Genderlinks Namibia 2015 best rural award in the centres of excellence in the local government category as well as the good governance award at the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN).
According to the village secretary, council does not solely rely on government subsidies and income from the provision of basic services, but it rather concentrates on and implement strategies generating additional income. As a means of boosting its coffers, the village council has put in place amongst others public transportation between Aroab and Keetmanshoop, self-catering accommodation units which they rent out, profitable small livestock farming, selling of vegetables produced from its gardens and the leasing out of municipal land to small-scale farmers.
Laubscher explained that council has started a small vegetable garden three years ago. “In the beginning we harvested beetroot, pumpkin, tomatoes, cabbage, gem- squash, carrots, green peppers and spinach and the income was 10 000 plus,” said Laubscher. She carried on by stating that they rented out the garden for some time, but after terminating the contract again start-producing vegetables at a slow pace since April 2018. She however remains positive that the garden can do better in future since they “also sell in the past to Keetmanshoop Farm Fresh vegetable market as well as to Canyon Hotel”. The administrator added that council is not embarking on extending the garden even though there is still plenty of land available.
In terms of the ongoing Build Together Project at the village, Laubscher explained it has been few years that they did not received funds from government in order to implement it.
As a means of securing the continuation of the project she explained that “the council has its own revolving fund, as the payments are coming in from persons it’s going to the revolving fund from which council decided to help 17 beneficiaries to the amount of N$1. 1 million”.
When probed on how many people benefitted from this project, she responded that she does not have an accurate figure, but she maintained it is quite substantial.
This reporter was highly impressed when observing no informal settlement in Aroab and when enquiring on it, the village secretary responded “the council relocated all people from the informal settlement to the social houses that was build a few years back”.
She however admitted there are still a few (undesirable) backyard shacks visible in the village, but that council is awaiting funds from the Habitat Project to remedy this.
“Once we receive funds from the project, we want to extend the social houses in order to accommodate the people in the backyard shacks,” she added. In addition, the administrator said that this Habitat Project was introduced by the line ministry to be piloted at Aroab village council, Opuwo Town Council and Walvis Bay Municipality, but that it is silent at the moment.
Furthermore, she said the village council is not eager at this stage to establish a new informal settlement, but rather wants to explore on modalities on how to secure funding in order to provide proper housing to its homeless residents.
“We are furthermore now busy with another project for the establishment of 190 low cost plots for the people because the waiting list is very long,” she said.
According to her, these plots will then be surveyed, packaged and serviced once funds requested for this purpose from the National Planning Commission becomes available.
2019-03-14 09:40:30 5 months ago