Serviced land, not houses

If Windhoek's roughly 42 000 families living in shacks were given serviced land with a title deed and each house was charged just N$150 per month, as a reduced rates levy, the City could pocket N$75 million per year.

05 September 2018 | Infrastructure

Instead of constructing 400 low-cost houses at a cost of N$66 million with grants and non-interest loans pledged by the Chinese government recently, experts calculate that investing those funds in minimally serviced land could result in more than 4 400 impoverished families currently living in shacks being able to build formal homes of their own.

Moreover, allowing low-income families to obtain legal ownership of land and permitting them to build their homes as funds become available, would ensure they accrue the benefits of home ownership and allow local authorities to pockets millions in rates and taxes, amended to ensure affordability for impoverished families.

“Using N$66 million to produce 400 houses is silly, unless you are an entrepreneurial housing developer. Four-hundred is a minute drop in the ocean, given that an estimated 150 000 families live in shacks in informal settlements in 2018 and that 11 000 new families move from rural areas into informal settlements each year,” John Mendelsohn of Raison, who has studied the issue of housing extensively, said this week.

He, and co-researcher Beat Weber, who published a book on informal settlements last year, argued that instead, at a cost of N$15 000 to survey and allocate a minimally surveyed erven,

4 400 families can acquire land with title as a means to facilitate their access to housing. “This is ten times more than when building houses,” Weber said.

Mendelsohn stressed that while

4 400 families is “not much of a dent in the great mire of poverty, they are much more than the 400 houses for middle-income families.”



Can be done

Weber, the executive director at Development Workshop Namibia (DWN), noted that cost recovery for municipalities is possible when affordable homes are made available.

“Those residents can actually pay for the 'product' and costs can be recovered.”

He said at an average price of N$15 000 per erf for an estimated 11 000 families from informal settlements, a “mere N$165 million would be used to effectively stop informal settlement growth in Namibia”.





He added that while other investments would be needed to upgrade bulk infrastructure, a “big chunk of the costs to solve unplanned informal settlement growth could be based on a cost recovery approach”.

Weber highlighted the urgency of first addressing the large-scale influx to urban informal settlements, to ensure that growth is halted.

“To get informal settlement growth under control, the 11 000 low-income households moving from rural to urban areas each year must be accommodated.”

Because of the poverty experienced by most of these migrants, they are unlikely to afford houses, including “social ones that may cost N$165 000 as suggested by the Chinese deal”.

He said “given the state of Namibia's economy” subsidisation is not an option, which leaves the alternative of providing affordable and “planned legal land where they can invest and incrementally build their homes”.



Simple solution

The benefits of ownership of land, apart from cost-effectiveness and ensuring that thousands more families could move from shacks into formal housing, are multiple.

Mendelsohn explained that if Windhoek's roughly 42 000 families living in shacks were afforded land with a title deed and each house was charged “just N$150 per month”, as a reduced rates levy, the city could pocket N$75 million per year in revenue.

Moreover, providing access to land for homes “provides one of the very basic conditions for households to build security investments, become an integral part of the formal town and contribute to its economic base and public funds,” Weber and John Mendelsohn wrote in their book on informal settlements last year.



Their study further noted that on a personal level, land ownership for low-income families would “provide them with confidence, services, security and long-term outlooks”.



Both needed

Herbert Jauch, a labour expert, warned this week that government has become slack on the issue of housing in recent years and has placed “little emphasis on finding an overall solution and instead piecemeal projects at local and regional level are being implemented”.

He said the Chinese deal is reflective of this.

“Unfortunately such a fragmented approach will not solve the housing crisis, which has reached enormous proportions”.

He said addressing the fact that shacks have become the “norm in many urban centres and a solution in terms of decent shelter for all would require a very deliberate and forceful state intervention, based on research data and strategic choices”.

He noted, however, that “an either/or option” is not advisable, and that both serviced land, especially in urban settlements and affordable housing should form part of the solution.

JANA-MARI SMITH

Similar News

 

Damaged houses still unrepaired

2 months ago - 13 November 2018 | Infrastructure

It is still unclear who will take responsibility for the houses built under the government's mass housing programme in Rundu's Kaisosi area, which were severely...

Olye e na oshinakugwanithwa shokutonatela omagumbo ga tungwa kohi...

2 months ago - 13 November 2018 | Infrastructure

KENYA KAMBOWEOmagumbo geli po 34 momudhingoloko ngoka oga li ga yonagulwa koshikungulu oshinene muDesemba gwomvula yo 2017, ihe sigo onena omagumbo mboka inaya tungululwa nenge...

Motorists fed up with Rundu's streets

2 months ago - 06 November 2018 | Infrastructure

Motorists are frustrated with the Rundu town council's failure to maintain the town's streets, saying that potholes cause a lot of damage to their cars.At...

Aahingi ya loloka oondjila dhanayipala moRundu

2 months ago - 06 November 2018 | Infrastructure

Aaniihauto mondoolopa yaRundu oya popi oya uvithwa nayi kelelo lyondoolopa yaRundu sho tali ndopa okulonga oondjila ndhoka dhi li monkalo ombwiinayi mondoolopa ndjoka, taya popi...

N$12m Tipeeg project scuppered

3 months ago - 16 October 2018 | Infrastructure

The illegal fencing of land has scuppered a commercial farming project, which was initiated in 2013 under government's Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic...

Govt seeks more loans

3 months ago - 15 October 2018 | Infrastructure

It appears that the Namibian government is preparing an official pitch to obtain funding from the New Development Bank, more commonly known as the Brics...

AR turns to High Court

3 months ago - 09 October 2018 | Infrastructure

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement has turned to the High Court to challenge the failure of industrialisation minister Tjekero Tweya to implement rent control boards.AR...

Developers face 'regulation'

3 months ago - 05 October 2018 | Infrastructure

The ministry of urban and rural development has proposed regulating the sale of land to private developers, especially to “prevent land speculation and the sale...

House building costs drop

3 months ago - 04 October 2018 | Infrastructure

With fuel and food prices constantly on the rise, there seems to some relief for Namibians, with a slight drop in house construction costs over...

Smart solution to Namibia's shameful housing crisis

4 months ago - 14 September 2018 | Infrastructure

Two Namibian town councils, in partnership with private partners, are embarking on an innovative project to minimally service 550 informal settlement plots to be sold...

Latest News

NDF defies court order

5 hours ago | Justice

Four days after the Namibian Defence Force was ordered to vacate a Rehoboth shooting range it had illegally occupied in December, the army's locks remain...

Pensioner loses N$400k in scam

5 hours ago | Crime

A 60-year-old woman at Oshakati has lost N$405 000 in an extortion scam staged by fraudsters pretending to be police officers. The incident happened...

Ramaphosa implicated in corruption allegations

5 hours ago | Economics

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Thursday called on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to cancel all existing government contracts with Bosasa and institute...

Retail industry records negative growth

5 hours ago | Economics

The wholesale and retail trade sector in Namibia has recorded various degrees of negative growth for eight consecutive quarters, a policy analyst at the Namibia...

Not a walk in the...

5 hours ago | People

Elizabeth Joseph Business and economics have always fascinated Danny Meyer, the founder of SMEs Compete.For as long as he can remember, Meyer has always harboured...

New year, new CV

5 hours ago | Columns

In the modern era, the job market is fast and competitive and opportunities come in a blink of an eye. If you are not ready...

Parents angry about Andimba School...

5 hours ago | Education

Some parents are accusing the Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Senior Secondary School at Ondangwa of denying grade 12 learners hostel accommodation. They complained to Namibian...

Vote to secure your destiny

5 hours ago | Columns

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) announced this week it will start conducting supplementary registration for voters in July, ahead of the presidential and National...

Corruption - A social disease

5 hours ago | Columns

How to create reckoning during the Year of Accountability?This article focuses on options to capitalise on the recently proclaimed ‘Year of Accountability’. Given the fact...

Load More