Low-cost land for housing
While COVID-19 and low cost sanitation are immediate and urgent concerns, the existence (and rapid growth) of informal settlements underpins social and economic inequality, and is an underlying cause of the current health crisis. Consequently, the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) and DWN continue to prioritise our sustainable urban development programme to assist local authorities in the provision of affordable land for housing in planned and minimally serviced neighbourhoods, as an alternative to unplanned informal settlements.
The land servicing and development programme is progressing as planned in all partner towns, with seven new neighbourhoods currently being developed with more than 4,000 plots in total.
- Oniipa: An MoU was signed with the Town Council on 23 June for the development of one extension, and the provision of low cost land for housing. The project will initiate in July.
- Okahao: The first 400 plots have been serviced with water connections; the reticulation system will be tested in July. An additional 34 plots will be allocated in the coming week, bringing the total number of allocated erven to 434.
- Keetmanshoop: A first draft urban layout plan for the new extension has been drawn in collaboration with the municipality town planner, in preparation for a broader stakeholder consultation.
- Opuwo: A revolving fund of N$250,000 was transferred to the Opuwo joint bank account by the NCE. The NCE manages the revolving funds on behalf of DWN and allocates funds to partner towns.
- Oshakati: With the last clients paying off their erven, client files are now being prepared for submission to the conveyancer.
This programme is supported by: private sector partners Urban Dynamics Town and Regional Planners, Strydom & Associates Land Surveyors, ESI Attorneys, Knight Piesold Engineering and Lithon Consultant Engineers continue to provide generous technical support. B2Gold, RMB, Namibian Chamber of Mines and GIZ provide financial support.
Covid-19 emergency response
Data from South Africa shows that informal settlements are disproportionally affected by COVID-19. It is likely that the expected surge of COVID-19 cases in Namibia will expose similar patterns. For example, a large percentage of early cases in Walvis Bay are residents of Kuisebmund, with its dense conglomeration of informal backyard shacks. Improving hand-washing practices through installing tippy taps will limit the spread of COVID-19 in these vulnerable areas.
Over 25,000 tippy taps have now been installed in 14 towns across Namibia, reaching out to more than 60,000 families or 180,000 residents. More than 250 green-shirted volunteers set up the tippy taps and also sensitise residents on preventive measures through house-to-house visits and COVID-19 pamphlet distribution.
The programme continues in Rundu, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Katima Mulilo, while additional funds are being sought to expand into other regions.
The bulk of this programme is supported by B2Gold, GIZ and UNDP, with considerable support from the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation and RMB. Many equally important smaller contributions were received from different institutions and individuals.
Appropriate low-cost sanitation
The rapidly expanding network of green-shirted volunteers created by the COVID-19 programme now provides a springboard for a nation-wide low cost sanitation outreach programme.
In the many towns where volunteer groups have completed installing tippy taps, they are now receiving additional training on sanitation. Once trained, they will initiate a house-to-house campaign across the informal settlements of their respective towns to monitor tippy tap use, reinforce COVID-19 messages, and now also provide general information on urban sanitation.
Messages about sanitation focus on hand washing, safe water storage and the use of toilets instead of open defecation. The volunteers are trained to use the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methodology, introduced to Namibia and piloted in different regions over the last years by government, WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP.
An urban CLTS project in Windhoek has shown considerable success since mid 2019: during the last few months alone, more than 200 residents of informal settlements have started building their own toilets following guidelines from the City of Windhoek and using their own funds. Given the rapid growth of informal settlements without sewer systems, self-built toilets are the only viable approach to effectively reduce open defecation on a large enough scale.
The bulk of this programme is currently supported by B2Gold and the European Commission, with considerable support also from UNICEF, UNDP, RMB and the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation.