Inequality prevails in Namibian House

The Okahandja Park informal settlement is one of the most underprivileged areas in the capital city.

14 April 2020 | Social Issues

Ester Kamati


The slums of Okahandja Park, an isolated location many Namibians call home, is likely to be hit hardest by the effects of the coronavirus.

The location, which is kilometres away from health facilities and shops, houses residents who not only worry about where their next meal will come from, but about the future of their children as well.

The nearest clinic is in Okuryangava, and home shops and kiosks in the area do not stock all the supplies residents may need, forcing them to trek to the Windhoek city centre.

Food insecurity

Resident Loini Angula said she would like to stay home, as per government's directive, but other than the fact the corrugated iron shack she lives in gets extremely hot in the afternoons, she also needs to fend for herself and her children.

“The only thing keeping me out of the house is the plate,” she said. She usually tries to solicit food from neighbours as she is unemployed.

Martha Shigwedha said sponsors and other donors claim to have distributed food items to “many people” in Okahandja Park, but it is often only a select few who benefit.

“They only give one here, one there and then they go. The rest of us do not get anything,” added Hafeni Luishi.

“And then they say 'the whole of Okahandja Park, we distributed food for them'.”

Community members stressed this gives the false impression that they are doing well, when in fact many struggle to make ends meet.

Another woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she used to work as a kindergarten teacher, but due to the closure of many schools and other facilities, she has been left without an income.

She shared that as a mother, she finds it difficult to get food and supplies. She mentioned venturing to the shops that are far away and being told she may not enter with her baby.

“I was disappointed because I already used my taxi money and I don't have anywhere to put my child when I go to the shop,” she said.

Lack of facilities

On top of their individual struggles, the residents of Okahandja Park also have common challenges stemming from their need for basic necessities. Community members crowded a community tap when approached by Namibian Sun.

“We have no choice but to gather here for water daily, even though we are told not to gather.”

Luishi said although there are two taps for each part of the neighbourhood, it makes no difference because only one can be used at time. “We are too many and the taps are very few,” he said. Only one toilet in the area works, according to Luishi. Many are often forced to relieve themselves in nearby bushes.

“If [Operation] Namib Desert [members] see you crossing the road, they will say go back,” he said.

Many of the residents echoed his sentiments, adding that the patrol officers do not listen to them.

“If they want us to stay at home, they must build enough toilets,” Luishi said. Community members also stressed that they are often left out of developmental efforts, such as the building of tippy-taps and the distribution of soap and sanitisers, which, according to them, stopped in Ombili.

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