By Charles Tjatindi
The shortage of proper housing and sanitation facilities and the overall lack of development in rural areas continues to be a source of concern for the Namibian Government.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba registered his concern on the lack of these services in the rural areas in his opening statement at the just-ended Cabinet retreat. The Head of State noted that lack of essential facilities and services such as sanitation and housing hampers the development of rural areas, as professionals shun these areas.
Pohamba noted that there is a synergy between housing and sanitation, as adequate sanitation is normally considered a pre-requisite for adequate housing. When combined, the President said, the two lead to improved health and welfare. He said it is high time those citizens without access to running water and toilets are provided with the required services.
“In my travelling around the country, I am increasingly reminded of the critical need for the provision of housing and sanitation in the rural areas.
How will we be able to attract professionals such as teachers, nurses and police officers to work in rural areas if we fail to provide quality housing and sanitation services?” Pohamba asked.
Another critical concern for the rural population is access to water for both animal and human consumption. Pohamba said because of low income levels in rural settings, water supply is often cut off due to failure to pay and the same applies for electricity.
The Head of State urged service providers to find alternative means of addressing this problem, as water is life and access to electricity is no longer a luxury.
Talking about land reform, the President noted that it is critical to embark on an extensive review of the policy on land allocation. Pohamba said there is need to make sure that those who are resettled by the Government make productive use of the land, while being assisted with the necessary training and access to capital.
He said land is an invaluable resource and an important means of production and should therefore not be underutilised. The Head of state said it is equally important for the Government to devise ways of addressing the increasing incidents of family evictions from farms after which they are left on roadsides.
Noting that there are incidents where these citizens have lived illegally on the land they occupied, Pohamba said it is everyone’s responsibility to look at the reasons why those affected are forced to illegally occupy farm land.
“The challenges I have outlined can only be achieved if we put in place effective cross-sectoral coordination. This will ensure that we act in unison without duplication and wastage. It is therefore incumbent upon the relevant institutions to regularly consult and coordinate their work,” he said.
Despite considerable improvements in the standard of living of the people, the rural areas are still lagging behind as the absence of major services pertaining to health, housing and sanitation continue to be experienced.
One of the milestones achieved by the Namibian Government is the rural electrification programme, which has literary lit many households in rural settings. Although other developmental programmes have also been directed at the rural areas, residents continue to live in poverty with many surviving from hand to mouth.