Local authorities urged to provide affordable housing

WALVIS BAY

22 October 2018 | Government

Nangolo Mbumba, Vice president; “When financial resources are scarce, budget cuts deeply affect those at the bottom of our society which are unemployed.”

Leandrea Louw - Local authorities should discuss relevant resolutions to provide urban land and housing to those who are unable to finance a home of their own or are homeless.

Vice president Nangolo Mbumba said this in a speech presented at the second joint Association of Local Authorities of Namibia (ALAN) general meeting and Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/Aids in Namibia (AMICAALL) annual partners’ orientation conference. It was read on his behalf by minister of poverty eradication Zephania Kameeta.

The conference commenced in Walvis Bay on Thursday morning and concluded yesterday .

Mbumba also advised local authorities to speak to the people in the towns, villages and settlements, and allow them to propose solutions.

He said the conference comes at a time when government is faced with increased difficulties in its service delivery functions to the people of Namibia, due to the recessionary state of the economy.

“When financial resources are scarce, budget cuts deeply affect those at the bottom of our society which are unemployed, or the less skilled majority members of our society. At the same time the rising costs of living, as reflected in increasing petrol, food and service costs in an environment of low or non-wage growth, also impact negatively on this same section of our society.”

Mbumba advised officials not to gloss over the real challenges which are facing the people, but to rather collectively apply their minds in a positive manner to seek innovative solutions.

“As we seek solutions, let these not come from the top down. Rather listen to the proposals, debates and sentiments made during this meeting. We need to break from our neatly thought-through analysis of what we think are the best for the people. Such a people-focused approach will assist us to arrive at contextual and permanent solutions which are responsive and effective.”

He said various issues faced by local authorities should not deter service delivery to their various communities.

“Many of the communities which you are serving are experiencing high levels of historical poverty due to the lingering effects of the years’ of apartheid policy of economic marginalisation. It is very difficult for most of these communities to pay their water and electricity bills which results in the cutting of such services by the municipal authorities.”

Mbumba also highlighted that unemployed youth and adults flock to big towns in search of employment and put immense pressure on the local authorities to provide them with housing and other services which they can hardly afford. He said this places overwhelming pressure on local authorities.

“It is a fact that local authorities lack financial resources. However, you do have land, which is one of the main capital factors which you should be using in a transparent and corruption free manner to attract those with financial and technical capacity to invest in the provision of low cost, medium and upper income housing. ”

He urged local authorities to be geared to attract and facilitate through fast and efficient processes both local and foreign investments into their localities, without subjecting potential investors to frustratingly delayed processes and bureaucratic quagmire which effectively shuts the door to such investments.

“Any such local authority which is not service-oriented but rather more preoccupied with internal fights and the politics of keeping out certain people, will never be able to establish suitable towns and cities.”

ALAN president Katrina Shimbulu challenged the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to go back to its mandate and called on local authorities to provide more land to the Shack Dwellers Federation (SDF).

“There are four types of housing providers in Namibia. We have the SDF, the Build Together project, the NHE and open market. We need to work together with the NHE, the SDF and Build Together. NHE is supposed to cater for middle income people. They need to come back to their mandate to start serving the people who earn N$3 500 per month. We also need to give more land to the SDF to cater for those earning N$1 500 - N$3 500. This people must be catered for.”

She called on contractors to be honest about the cost of building materials.

“A two or three bedroom house can be built within the limit of N$40 000. Why can’t a local authority do that?”

According to the Community Land Information Program (CLP) coordinated by the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia there are currently 308 informal settlements in Namibia with an estimated 228 000 shacks accommodating more than 995 000 people.

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