A crisis of epic proportions

01 November 2019 | Opinion

Today we carry the latest statistics, collected on the ground by the Shack Dwellers Association of Namibia (SDFN), which show that nearly one million Namibians wake up in shacks every morning.

This comes at a time when political parties are getting into the full swing of campaigning for the upcoming general election. These latest statistics also follow a declaration by President Hage Geingob that shacks are a national humanitarian crisis and that he wants them eliminated in a matter of years.

The head of state said in January that shack conditions are a disaster.

“We have a crisis where human beings are staying in conditions that are unbearable. Some are even security officers who come and guard us in the luxury areas where we are staying. A person who would come from that condition, how will their mental state be? And they have guns also,” the president said.

The SDFN said this week that since 2008 the number of people living in shacks in small to large urban areas has doubled, from half a million in 2005 to 953 937 now. These figures exclude the Walvis Bay backyard shacks.

Who among us can forget the so-called mass housing project, which was launched with much fanfare ahead of the 2014 general election?

The intention was to build 185 000 houses at a cost of N$45 billion by 2030. The project, which had given so much hope to Namibians, came to a grinding halt amid accusations of contractors inflating prices. We once against stand on the eve of an election, and the housing situation has become progressively worse. The latest news on the mass housing project was delivered earlier this year when urban and rural development ministry executive director Nghidinua Daniel told Namibian Sun that the government was in the process of refining the project, which was put on ice in 2015. Housing, which has been used as a political football in the past, is at the very core of giving our people dignity. The current situation is therefore untenable.

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