Twenty low cost houses for fire victims

Members of Shack Dwellers group to benefit

06 October 2020 | Local News

Ronny Einbeck; Standard Bank; “We are restarting the journey to realise the dreams of Otweya families …”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

The ground-breaking ceremony for low cost units for 20 families of the Otweya informal settlement, took place in Walvis Bay.

The initiative is driven by Standard Bank Namibia (SBN) with the beneficiaries being members of the Shack Dwellers Federation (SDF).

The ground-breaking for the construction of the 20 houses is the first phase in the construction of many more homes for the residents of Otweya.

Speaking at the event, regional manager for SBN Ronny Einbeck said the bank under its Buy-a-Brick Initiative, launched the Footprint Socks campaign to sell specially designed socks to raise funds for the construction of the houses.

“All the proceeds generated from the sale of the Footprint Socks will go towards the construction of houses for residents of the Otweya informal settlement in Walvis Bay. We are restarting the journey to realise the dreams of the families of Otweya for shelter, for restoring dignity and creating hope for a better tomorrow. It is our humble commitment to ensure that we continue the fight to provide decent shelter to our people.”

Deputy minister of urban and rural development Derek Klazen, said that the need for housing in Namibia is acute.

“Currently, 47.9% of Namibia’s population resides in informal settlements; 39.7% of these urbanites live in informal settlements, with limited or no access to water and sanitation, housing and security of tenure.”

Klazen said that the vulnerability of people who live in backyards in Walvis Bay and those living in informal settlements across the country, are especially exposed to the ravaging effects of Covid-19.

“Congestion and lack of adequate spacing and an inability to observe social distancing, lack or limited access to potable water and sanitation aided the spread of this deadly contagion in Walvis Bay and in other towns.”

‘Proper home’

He explained to the residents of Otweya that after the fire, there was the option to move them into one room structures without a toilet or shower.

“We thought this structure will help after the fire. However, government felt that although it is a good structure, we cannot take people out of a shack and place them in a structure with no ablution facilities. Our people have dignity, and we need to take them to a proper place, which they can call their home.”

He stated that the Walvis Bay municipality can easily put up these units, on land that is partially serviced near the old Twaloloka area, but there won’t be water or ablution facilities.

“We decided to wait a bit. I apologise that you are still in tents, but very soon you will be placed in proper homes. Currently, the municipality with support of government, is servicing land at Extension 8. All fire victims currently living in tents, will be relocated to Extension 8.”

Klazen said that residents will receive certificates of occupation, as a promise that they will be relocated once the land is ready.

“The process will be done step by step; not everyone will move at once. All I am asking is to be patient and trust your government.”

Naftali Uutoni, the SDF facilitator for Walvis Bay and the Erongo region, stated that the group has about 7 900 members, of which more than 6 000 are from Walvis Bay alone.

“There are 32 SDF members whose shacks burnt down, but only 20 will benefit from these houses; there are members who have been part of SDF since 2011. Once we had criteria in place, I invited the members to my home, to explain why some were benefiting, as I did not want any fighting.”

Uutoni called on the community to assist members with material and other necessities when it comes to building their homes.

“We want to finish these houses within three weeks, and that can only be done if we make a collective effort.”

Beneficiaries of the houses stated that they are happy with the development, even though it stemmed from a tragedy.

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