Housing and Basic Services across Namibia: Omuthiya

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Focus Areas: Water & Sanitation | Housing

This project encompasses the construction of two hundred and eighty-five (285) incremental houses and the development of services for one hundred and forty (140) houses across Namibia. Work has taken place in the following cities and towns: Katima Mulilo, Nkurenkuru, Tsandi, Oshakati, Omuthiya, Henties Bay, Luderitz, Okakarara and Windhoek.

Construction began in August 2013 and is yet to be completed, with service installation in a number of areas delayed. Recent policy shifts, as described in the context section of this report, have also affected the project.

Location: Omuthiya, Namibia

Deliverables:

A total of one hundred and thirty-nine (139) houses have been completed while seventy-three (73) are under construction. 

Community capacity:

As with all Namibian housing projects, beneficiaries are all Federation members and hence well versed in the rituals of savings and collective action. Learning through “doing” and regional exchanges have built capacity to deliver housing. For example, members of the Litoragwira savings scheme in the Kavango region visited Zambezi saving scheme in Katima Mulilo to learn how to make bricks. Some of the groups also produce their own hollow blocks for the construction and do their own excavations.

Although the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) provides backstopping in capacity building. They ensure that many of the skills required to manage savings groups transparently as well as the skills required to construct houses and service infrastructure are passed on from experienced groups to new ones. This is not only cost-effective but reduces dependence on external resources. Simultaneously, NHAG facilitates skills development in new building techniques, as well as aspects of town planning, such as developing basic layout plans and their interpretation for subsequent demarcation of individual plots. The Community Land Information Programme (CLIP) compliments this process, as members of the Federation have acquired skills to conduct socio-economic surveys and mapping.

Capacity to manage loan repayments and regularly report on progress has improved significantly in the last period as illustrated  by the Joel Kaapanda savings scheme in the Omusati region. They used their own savings to install services and extend their houses. The group also pays its loans back regularly. This resulted in their region being awarded a certificate during the Federation national meeting on the 13th of June 2015 for accurate Twahangana reporting.

Scale:

As with other Namibian Housing projects the practical capacities demonstrated by the Federation in this development were cited as motivation for the Namibian Alliance’s inclusion in government’s Mass Housing Initiative. The recent suspension of the Mass Housing programme by the new Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa there is a possibility that the “Build Together” programme will be revived. 

Impact:

At the local level all the groups participating in this project managed to successfully negotiate with Local Authorities for land. In some cases authorities also made regulatory, planning and financial concessions such as reduced land prices for example, to further reduce the cost burden on beneficiaries.

Finance:

SDI Contributions:

SDI’s capital contribution for the project is US$356,000. An additional US$89,000 was provided for technical assistance. Hence, the total project contribution was US$445 000.

Resources Leveraged:

Local authorities provided land to the savings schemes involved in this project at an affordable price. For example in Nkurenkuru, the Litoragwira Savings Scheme paid N$20,000 per plot - with each member contributing N$ 2000, a significant reduction compared to the normal price of plots in the area.

State Subsidy:

As part of the Build Together programme the Namibian Alliance receives an annual contribution of N$3,500 for the construction of one hundred and thirty-four (134) houses across Namibia. This amount is channelled into the Twahangana Urban Poor Fund which is managed by the Federation and disbursed as loans in accordance with the Fund's regulations. The Fund is grown through both loan repayments and the retirement of subsidies against completed housing stock. The Twahangana fund is very much a poor people’s fund; it is managed, monitored and disbursed by the Federation .

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

Loan repayments are being made to the Twahangana Urban Poor Fund and accurate figures will be provided after the next round of reporting from Namibia in July 2015.

Anna Muller nhag@iway.na (+264) 61 239 398 View Website
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Project information updated: 13 October 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information


This project arose out of the demands of saving groups in Caprivi, Kavango, Khomas, Omusati, Oshikoto, Erongo  to meet their basic housing needs. With the exception of Caprivi, houses were constructed on greenfield sites that were secured through negotiations with local authorities – a process supported closely by NHAG. Conditions in Oshikoto are indicative of the challanges faced by informal slum dwellers across Namibia. Federation members from Oshikoto note how they lived in an overcrowded informal settlement with extremely limited communal water and sanitation facilities. The demand for housing in the area was so high that people were crammed into backyard shacks. The housing backlog in Namibia stands at approximately 140,000.

In relation to the policy context, this project forms part of the “Build Together” programme initiated by Government to provide housing for Namibia’s urban poor. As noted in other Namibian projects outlined on this site, it is through the “Build Together” programme that the Namibian SDI Alliance has been able to leverage a significant annual subsidy contribution from the State.

Due to a number of challenges, namely poor administration and payment capacity, lack of commitment, beneficiary oversubscription, high construction costs and slow delivery associated with the “Build Together” programme, a new “Mass Housing” policy was initiated by National Government in 2013. However, houses constructed under this new policy were not always affordable to the poor. Furthermore, there were delays at numerous levels due to technicalities in the tender process. The shift in policy, and subsequent delays, have slowed housing delivery across Namibia in the last few years. At the time of writing this the “Mass Housing” programme has been suspended due to a shortage of funds. A technical team has been constituted to investigate the irregulaities plaguing the programme. 

Deliverables:

The incremental construction of two hundred and eighty-five (285) houses and provision of services for one hundred and forty (140) houses.

Community capacity:

The communities' construction capacities and skills were developed through exchanges. Their financial managament skills were also improved through accessing and repaying their loans from the Twahangana Fund.

In this, and all Namibian housing projects, the Federation manages the construction process. With respect to preparation and design, a participatory planning process is followed. All housing beneficiaries are members of savings groups and participate in regional and national meetings. It is through these interactions, and more specific exchanges that construction, bookkeeping and general management capacities are developed.

Negotiation for a parcel of land with single plots was supported by NHAG in Katima Mulilo. In this case Federation members completed their own layouts and NHAG provided assistance by converting these to electronic versions which met the regulations for council submission. In Caprivi, a 20 year old informal settlement located in the town of Choto, the Luxembourg Development Agency (LuxDev) assisted in the land formalisation process. In addition Luxdev assisted the Town Councils in Rundu and Katima Mulilo with settlement formalisation.  This led to plots being sold to beneficiaries for NAD20 per square meter. Today many members of the affected informal communities are purchasing land and building homes using loans from the Twahangana Fund.

The Twahangana fund is indeed a poor people’s fund. It is managed, monitored and disbursed by the Federation as an intrinsic part of their processes. In the words of SDI’s long time friend and mentor Father Jorge Anzorena upon visiting a brick-making scheme on Windhoek’s periphery:

“In Namibia I noticed the change of responsibility. It’s not the NGO that is responsible for the finances but it is the community. In many other places the NGO pushes the community to return the money – but when the community controls the money they take much more responsibility to use it. Often it is difficult for poor people to think long term because the focus is on surviving in the moment. But the change that comes with savings is that people can start thinking about the near future.”

Scale:

This project is intended to be nationwide.

Impact:

This project has resulted in an increase in resources from National Government for shelter development. It has also strengthened the Federation’s position as a partner in the President’s Blueprint plan for housing delivery.

Finance:

SDI Contributions:

SDI’s capital contribution for the project is US$356,000. An additional US$89,000 was provided for technical assistance.

Resources Leveraged:

See notes on state subsidy throughout project narrative.

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

Funds will be recovered through housing loan repayments to the Twahangana Urban Poor Fund in line with the Fund's rules and principles as managed by the Namibian Federation.

Cities Alliance. (2009). Community Land Information Programme (CLIP): Profile of Informal Settlements in Namibia. [Online]. Available: https://www.citiesalliance.org/sites/citiesalliance.org/files/NamibiaCLIP092.pdf.
 
Mongudhi, T. & Immanuel, S. (2013). Mass Housing Absorbs Build Together, The Namibian. [Online]. Available: http://www.namibian.com.na/indexx.php?archive_id=116995&page_type=archive_story_detail&page=1
 
New Era. (2015). Bank Windhoek Signs Up to Assist Mass Housing Initiative. [Online]. Available: https://www.newera.com.na/2015/04/29/bank-windhoek-signs-assist-mass-housing-initiative
 
Republic of Namibia. (2013). Summary of Blueprint on Mass Housing Development Initiative in Namibia. [Online]. Available: http://www.housingfinanceafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Blueprint-Mass-Housing.pdf
 
SDF & NHAG. (2010). Community Land Information Programme (CLIP). Paper presented at the Networking Event on Count Me In, For Planning My City at the 5th World Urban Forum, Rio de Janeiro, Brail. [Online]. Available: http://www.urbangateway.org/system/files/documents/urbangateway/8694_59035_EdithMbanga_SDFN_clip.pdf
 
Simione, N.T. (2007). Namibia National Housing Programme - "Build Together": Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Programme. [Online]. Available: http://lth.se/fileadmin/hdm/alumni/papers/SDD_2007_242a/Naomi_Simion__Namibia.pdf.
 
UNESCO. (n.d.). Build Together: The National Housing Programme of Namibia. [Online]. Available: http://www.unesco.org/most/africa5.htm.

Funding Information

Raised:

$445,000.00

Funding type:

Grant funding

Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Shack Dweller's Federation of Namibia (SDFN)


Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG)


The Rockefeller Foundation