Home is where the heart is

Some 400 lucky families in Oshakati and Okahao will soon own their own homes.

11 April 2019 | Infrastructure

The groundwork has been laid for the servicing of 400 plots in two new low-cost residential areas in Oshakati and Okahao.

Three-hundred more will be pegged in Karibib next month as part of an innovative scheme to tackle the country's housing crisis.

The demarcation of the 700 plots forms part of a ground-breaking non-profit land provision programme that will give some of Namibia's poorest citizens a chance to own land and build homes in well-planned neighbourhoods.

Last week, the first phase of the Development Workshop Namibia (DWN) and the Namibia Chamber of Environment's (NCE) programme for the Provision of Low Cost Land for Housing kicked off with the demarcation of 400 plots.

The programme aims to develop sufficient, affordable land for housing, with initial minimal servicing of plots, to make the informal housing market redundant.

The land will be sold at cost price.

Depending on circumstances, plot prices will range from N$10 000 to N$15 000, with full freehold title included in the cost of the erf.

Once local authorities have signed an agreement with the DWN and NCE, and provided free land, the DWN develops the land together with its partners at the lowest cost possible.

One of the conditions is that the new owners may not sell their plots for seven years. This is to avoid land speculation.

The programme is based on research which showed that a lack of affordable land was the main reason for the continued growth of informal settlements.



Bright idea

Last year, when the programme was first launched, Lesley Grand Goroseb, Karibib CEO, told Namibian Sun that the town council agreed to provide erven, for free, to the project as it provides an effective solution to a growing, and mostly unaddressed, problem.

“I think the initiative by the government was supposed to be mass servicing, not mass housing. We need to concentrate on bulk infrastructure upgrades and provision of basic services towards housing the poor.”

Once people have paid of the erf, they can then occupy it. Due to the low income nature of the residents, they are allowed to build a first temporary structure with improvised materials (such as corrugated iron), but must initiate the construction with bricks within a period of one year.

The scheme is exclusively for low income and first-time land and home buyers and all applications are carefully vetted.

The programme framework ensures that the neighbourhoods can be upgraded with additional services over time.

In Oshakati and Okahao, the services included are household water connections and access roads. As a temporary measure, residents have a choice to build their own pit latrines, conservancy or septic tanks.

Building guidelines are provided by the project.

In contrast to informal settlements, these new low-income residential areas are well planned and can be easily upgraded with sewer systems and electricity grids. The main objective of the programme is to provide the foundation for planned urban expansion.

It is estimated that around 12 000 shacks are erected each year in Namibia's towns.

The book 'Informal Settlements in Namibia', published by DWN in 2017, contained landmark research which showed that informal settlement growth could be stopped through a large-scale land delivery programme.



JANA-MARI SMITH

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