Hundreds of members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) gathered in the early morning of Saturday, March 10, 2018 in Erongo region to welcome members of local and national government, public and private partners, and their Patron, The First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, for the official hand over of 136 houses in Swakopmund (36) and Walvis Bay (100).
The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia is a network of 740 savings groups with over 23,000 members across the country. Community savings have been used to secure land, and to leverage additional government contributions, enabling the groups to build over 4,800 houses. The Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) supports the Federation.
The housing projects in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay were initiated by SDFN members and additional funding was provided by government through the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
Hon. Cleophas Mutjavikua, Governor of Erongo Region, praised the federation, stating "honestly, the Shack Dwellers Federation is making a difference. How can we resource them to construct more houses across the region?" In Erongo Region alone, there is a backlog of over 50,000 houses (20,000 in Swakopmund and 30,000 in Walvis Bay).
SDFN houses cost N$ 45,000 while the government's Mass Housing Project's cheapest houses started from N$ 200,000. Additionally, the federation was able to complete construction of these 136 houses within a two-month period.
SDFN started in 1996 in Swakopmund. Today, they have 25 savings groups with 817 members. The federation has constructed 66 houses, 30 houses in 2000 and these newly constructed 36 houses.
When the federation received the land it only had bulk services. SDFN was able to negotiate with the Municipality to service the individual plots themselves, which if done by a contractor would cost 8 times as much. The federation excavated the trenches installed internal service reticulation for N$ 99,000. Not only was servicing the plots themselves cheaper, community members were trained during the installation, and as a result gained skills in the installation of water and sewer lines.
After the installation of services was completed, construction of the houses could begin. The 36 houses were completed in March 2017 after two months of construction.
The federation houses cost N$ 45,000 excluding land. After negotiations with Swakopmund Municipality each plot of land costs N$ 2,316. However this did not include the cost of planning and surveying the plots. They had to hire a town planner and land surveyor to assist, in order to support the Council's resolution to provide individual titles.
SDFN has 70 savings groups with 2,510 members in Walvis Bay. Of these members, 248 have received land.
The construction of the current 100 houses began in November 2017. To date, 98 houses are completed, 23 houses are occupied, and 3 houses among those already have electricity.
"We have proven ourselves to be a good partner for local authorities and a solution for the low income earners and those living in shacks. If we get more land we will deliver Walvis Bay to a shack free town but we cannot work in isolation." shared SDFN member Maria Mbambi.
In the neighbouring community of Narraville, the federation has been allocated a piece of land for 68 houses. As was the case in Swakopmund, the community is responsible for servicing the individual plots before the construction of houses can begin. However due to the challenges of the terrain with its vast dunes the amount of earthworks that needs to first be completed will not be possible without the use of machinery. The Municipality has provided machinery but the fuel has run out. Narraville SDFN members in discussions with Walvis Bay members are sharing experiences and ideas to come up with a solution to complete the servicing of this land. Narraville members have saved N$ 87,000 and are exploring how they can use their savings to continue work, such as purchasing fuel for the machinery, while at the same time negotiating with the Municipality to cover the installation of roads, something the community is not able to do themselves.
The First Lady praised those who have actively been involved in their own development and urged government to accelerate the delivery of land. We acknowledge the delay in providing land and we must move faster to provide land to our citizens. We can no longer just talk, we must act now and start working. As Patron to SDFN, she has been instrumental in bringing increased recognition of SDFN's work to both government and private sector partners.
In addition to government support, private sector partners have contributed over N$9 million to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia the past two years.
- Standard Bank Namibia through their "Buy-A-Brick" campaign has provided N$ 3,121,443.35 million dollars to SDFN
- Ohorongo Cement, Pupkewitz Foundation, and FNB have contributed N$ 5,950,000 to SDFN
The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia has demonstrated an affordable and sustainable approach to housing for low-income earners. Both projects are being scaled up to neighbouring communities. In Swakopmund, the Federation has mobilised an additional 300 households in DRC in 2017 and have applied for a 36 hectare plot of land. Nearby Walvis Bay in Narraville, Federation members are currently preparing to service a plot of land for 68 households and also just acquired an additional plot for 200 households .
With the recognition from both local and national government, SDFN and NHAG are now exploring ways to deepen their engagement around land and housing discussions to include a broader inclusive and integrated approach to planning and designing cities.
"Give people the money, they will know how to solve their problems." - Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia