15 February 2019

Namibia: Geingob Calls for Order in Informal Settlements

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob yesterday said police should prevent people from erecting shacks in informal settlements, instead of demolishing them when people have already settled there.

Geingob made these remarks during a courtesy visit by delegates from the Shack Dwellers International and Urban Poor Fund International (SDI UPFI), the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) and the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) at State House yesterday.

The president said the country fought to get rid of apartheid restrictions, but freedom of movement is causing people to squat anywhere.

Geingob said he informed the police to intervene before the shacks are erected, and instead of destroying them, to provide alternative accommodation.

"There must be order. The police cannot allow people first to put up a hut, then demolish it. They must stop it before people move in. If you demolish it after they move in, it looks bad," he added.

The visit included delegates from South Africa, Kenya and Liberia, as well as the Liberian deputy minister of urban affairs, Paulita Wie. The meeting was followed by a round-table discussion in search of solutions to delays in urban land delivery.

The discussions were centred around ensuring that the upgrading of informal settlements is community-driven, evaluating strategies which remove obstacles for acquiring affordable shelter and land, and evaluating financing models for increased community-driven housing developments.

The patron of the SDFN, first lady Monica Geingos, emphasised the importance of a community-driven approach in addressing informal settlements.

The director of the NHAG, Anna Muller, said they brought the representatives from other African countries to learn more from their experiences.

"We need a collaborative model - working together with stakeholders who want to make a difference to the lives of our people - to enable us to scale up and ensure that we are not only helping a few," she enthused.

Muller praised Geingob's actions of declaring the plight of the shack dwellers and informal settlers as a national humanitarian crisis, adding that they are ready to assist in making a dream to eradicate shacks come true in the country.

The SDFN's Khomas regional facilitator, Elizabeth Amakali, said they are willing to support communities in informal settlements to do data collection as part of the community land information programme when the community and local authority agree to collaborate.

"With this information, the community can discuss their needs and affordability, and plan for meeting those needs. With our support from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), we have learnt to do community planning and make upgrading plans," she noted.

Amakali further said they are committed to ensuring that Namibians have access to land, services and houses, and they would like to have assisted all shack dwellers in the country before 2030.

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