Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Namibians Deem Land, Housing Delivery Provisions Insufficient
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

ABOUT 52% of Namibians believe that the strategies that government has in place are not effective at all in terms of delivering serviced land and proper housing for locals.

This was stated by Afrobarometer, administered by the Institute of Public Policy Research. It also stated that 27% of Namibians feel government strategies to deliver land and proper housing are not very effective, while only 40% reckon that government strategies are effective.

Meanwhile, 57% of Namibians believe that government is performing very well in terms of providing water and sanitation services, despite a number of rural residents lacking access to infrastructure for these services.

When it comes to electricity, 43% of Namibians said they have electricity most of the time. However, the survey revealed that only 30% of rural respondents live in areas with a piped water system, 9% are within reach of a sewerage system, 14% live within walking distance of a health clinic, and 37% live in areas served with an electric grid.

Speaking at the launch of the Afrobarometer survey on Tuesday as a panellist, deputy minister of urban and rural development Derek Klazen stressed the need for land and housing, saying government kicked off with a land servicing programme at Walvis Bay, Oshakati, and in Windhoek.

“The affordability of housing in Namibia is becoming an issue because houses constructed are too expensive. As government, we are looking at constructing cheaper houses, or making the houses available at cheaper prices for Namibians. Our idea is to construct houses that cost below N$500 000,” he said.

Klazen noted that land can be free, but the services put on that land are very expensive, and not everybody can afford that.

“The minute we provide people with the land, they would expect us to provide them with the services.” He added that social housing is a solution, and would be a way for government to move towards providing affordable housing.

Moreover, Klazen rubbished the notion that government has done little with regards to land reform in the country, stressing that severe strain is placed on local authorities due to rural-urban and urban to urban migration that is still prevalent.

“People are seeking better social and economic opportunities, education, employment and so forth. Local authorities are thus technically unable to provide the required serviced land, sanitation, housing and other essential services,” he stressed.

Klazen further stated that the inability of needy low-income earners to benefit from existing land and housing provision programmes is due to the constrained economic growth and limited job opportunities.

“Financial support is lacking for this group because commercial banks see them as a high risk, and thus do not provide them with finances. The high cost of land, planning, servicing and housing development are often beyond the affordability of the needy. In order for us to effectively address proper housing as well as access to serviced land, we need interventions from local authorities, the communities and the private sector,” he added.

Affirmative Repositioning activist Job Amupanda was also a panellist, and propagated the need for a rent control body, saying laws should be put in place to protect people who are renting. He said it is disingenious for government to say they cannot implement rent control because it is an old colonial law that is obsolete.

“When they use that old colonial law, they use the Squatters Proclamation Act to evict people, forgetting that that same law is even older than the rent law. We are taking government to court to fight that rent control is introduced. We are confident we will win,” he stated.

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