Informal Namibia in critical need of toilets

Nearly 90% have no toilets at home

04 June 2021 | Economics

On average, only 12% of residents in informal settlements have a toilet at home. Stephanie French, Consulting advisor: Development Workshop (DW)

Eighty-eight percent of homes in informal settlements do not have toilets, the Development Workshop (DW) says.

This is informed by a study conducted in major towns such as Windhoek, Karibib, Otjiwarongo, Katima Mulilo, Opuwo and Oshakati, where the largest sections of informal settlements are located.

This figure was made known by Stephanie French, who is the consulting advisor for sanitation for DW, during her contribution at a stakeholder engagement aimed at enhancing participatory democracy in Namibia held at Parliament on Wednesday.

In line with Parliament’s objectives, French wants sanitation to be placed at the centre as it is at “crisis proportion.”

“On average, only 12% of residents in informal settlements have a toilet at home. Almost 90% are using the bush, using a plastic bag or the riverbed,” she said.

French said they want to work with the authorities to make sanitation a priority. “We are eager to engage at all levels,” she appealed.

DW works with communities and local authorities to make informal settlements open-defecation free.


“We have a relationship with the ministries of agriculture and health and mostly we work with the local municipalities. Our offices are in the municipality offices, we are awarded space. We work with volunteers to sensitise communities to build toilets and change behaviour,” she noted.

The situation, she cautioned, exposes those who live in informal settlements to deadly diseases such as Hepatitis E. The programme is being rolled out in eight different towns.

DW is a registered Namibian NGO with a focus on sustainable urban development, informal settlements and the disadvantaged communities that reside in them. In the second Harambee Prosperity Plan for the next four years, sanitation is also a priority.

The government plans to launch Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) awareness to increase hygiene through the community construction of latrines at household level in urban and peri-urban areas.

The ambitious plan also envisages sustaining investments into the development of bulk water and sewer infrastructure, so as to eliminate the remaining 483 bucket toilets by next year. -Nampa