No gimmicks, please

30 January 2019 | Columns

In its transformational strategic plan for 2017-2022, the City of Windhoek unveiled grand plans, including addressing the perennial issue of the lack of sanitation in informal settlements, among many others.

Many towns, settlements and village councils are confronted by similar challenges and this often sparks an avalanche of frustration and action by those mostly affected. Service delivery protests may not be the order of the day in Namibia, compared to our neighbour’s south of the Orange River, but the glaring truth is that many of our people living in so-called informal settlements lead dejected lives. Some have lost all hope for a better future, as the authorities continuously overlook their problems. It is not only the poor infrastructure found in these areas that are prone to floods and stormwater, but the situation in informal settlements provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of diseases, including the highly publicised hepatitis E outbreak, which claimed over 14 lives. So many people live on the same land in these settlements and it should be noted that inadequate access to water and clean toilets lead to major problems such as cholera, diarrhoea and other airborne and waterborne infections. These are the awful conditions that the poor of this nation have been subjected to for far too long. It is obvious that rapid urban growth has resulted in many problems such as inadequate housing, water, sanitation and healthcare services. However, government - as a collective - has shown that it lacks the urgency to address profound social problems, especially those associated with people living in informal settlements, due to poor planning and to an extent sheer incompetence on the part of those in charge. Therefore, there must be the political will and action to tackle the myriad of problems being experienced by our fellow Namibians, who are not catered for in the greater scheme of things, instead of just making the right noise during an election year. What we need is real solutions, not gimmicks.

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