By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
The Institute of Social Development is suggesting the country consolidate all the civic organisations participating in housing with various social corporate responsibilities to address the low-cost housing.
The institute project coordinator Lukas Mungolo, who is also an architect, brought the option forward after the housing symposium held at the end of March in Windhoek this year.
Mungolo suggests local authorities and their line ministry consolidate Civic Organisation and companies with annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) financial contributions to the housing sector.
He said they could do this using the scenario of MTC, Standard Bank, PupKewitz Foundation, and so forth, who remodelled their CSR and contributed significantly to the provision of low-cost houses through the Civic Organisation such as the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SFDN) in the housing sector.
He further said the consolidation will supplement GRN on housing development to deliver 30 000 houses per year to reduce the current estimated 300 000 house backlog by 2030.
“If we don’t explore and accelerate the current path of house delivery, this crisis is estimated to be compacted after some years from now,” he said
The coordinator explained that if the country doesn’t opt for the consolidation option, a national budget of more than N$70 billion will be required to fund more than the 300 000 growing current house backlog, funds that the government doesn’t have at the moment.
Mungolo also called on policymakers to stop referring to houses that cost N$500 000 and above as affordable housing, given the income level of many Namibians.
He said, “the true definition of affordable houses is what the masses can afford, and masses can afford houses only from N$90 000 to N$400 000.
However, according to Mungolo, that segment of the housing sector is not appetising to high margin/profit-driven entities.
“These types of housing projects can only be delivered efficiently by Civic organisations with self-help groups or with social programs with specific aims of delivering social housing (ultra-low-cost housing bracket for low earners, which are the masses),” said the architect.
Civic organisations like the Shack Dwellers Federation have models and programs to deliver houses for N$60 000, while the likes of the Institute of Social Development (ISD) supplement the private and public sectors on the infrastructure development agenda.
According to Mungolo, since 2016, ISD has executed projects worth N$100 million at no cost and projects worth over N$40 million at recovery cost. ISD is administered by house Town planners, engineers, project managers, land surveyors, and Architects.
He indicated that the country is on a critical path that requires more to be done with what is available through innovations in housing design and building material without being conditioned to what is known already and archaic laws.
Mungolo added that what is left is to consolidate political muscles with practical and technical solutions to address the country’s housing crisis.
NAM GHETTO SITUATION
In her presentation at the symposium on behalf of SDFN and the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) Trust, Anna Muller, detailed the country’s housing crisis.
According to Muller, the Namibian housing crisis is characterised by high housing costs due to slow and costly delivery of serviced land and negligible affordable formal housing production.
This is in the presence of high unemployment and underemployment and extremely low household income levels.
Muller highlighted that most of the population is excluded from accessing conventional credit-linked housing if one uses income statistics of the employed as documented by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).
According to Muller’s assessment, 62 per cent of those working are earning below N$5000 per month, and 25 per cent earn between N$5000 and N$10 000.
She explained that the country’s urban landscapes are dominated by informal housing.
Muller highlighted that data collected within communities indicated that the country has 216 000 shacks that accommodate about 950 000 people in 285 informal settlements.
This makes it about 40 per cent of the urban population to be living in shacks, according to the Community Land Information Program-(CLIP), Muller said.
She added that access to land through the security of tenure is a critical issue- there are no development opportunities in places where land ownership is denied or given at a snail’s pace.
CIVIC ORGANISATIONS AND CORPORATE COLLABORATION
Supporting Mungolo’s argument, Muller indicated that the housing crisis requires building a partnership to finance affordable housing through government, community, and corporations.
She used the case study of the Twahangana Fund. The fund was established in 1995 to provide finances for servicing land and building houses.
The saving groups approve the loans, do the bookkeeping, and manage the loan repayment while NHAG administers the books.
According to Muller, the fund channelled N$263.24 million to the housing groups for members to build houses and install services.
Part of the money (34,9 per cent) was generated from members of the funds (N$79,7 million repayments + N$12,12 million-member contribution ), 36,8 per cent (N$96,85 million) of the funds came from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, and is also revolving.
Muller also indicated that the corporate/private sector also contributed 14,2 per cent (N$31,51 million) of the funds through donations.
The corporates who came through include Standard Bank Buy-a-Brick Donations, Ohorongo Cement, FNB, Pupkewitz Foundation (Building Material suppliers), B2Gold, Office of the First Lady, MTC Knock-Out competition, Osino Mining ABC Fishing.
While 8,7 per cent (N$22,98 million) is from external funders,
Muller emphasised a partnership approach to scaling up the security of tenure and housing opportunities through co-production between organised communities, local and regional authorities, central government, universities, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
She said there is a social impact of enabling communities to participate in the housing and land process, meeting the need for a “home” on a scale with less per capital costs.
The partnership will unlock ownership at the local level, enabling social capital and shared knowledge, building the capacity of the “excluded”, especially women and the broader community.
Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia is a social movement on a national level with 1 016 Saving Groups, comprising 31 197 households.
It aims to improve the living conditions by working together as saving groups and supporting informal settlement communities according to their needs.
The federation is financially supported by Namibia Housing Action Group, an NGO and informal settlement community. It technically links the community to the formal sector and administers their Twahangana Fund (to meet land, service, and housing needs).