The Outapi Town Council has funded the construction of more than 100 low-cost houses for over N$450 000 through the Build Together Programme for the past three years.
Located on the Oshakati/Ruacana main road with another road connecting to Outapi-Tsandi and Okahao, Outapi has become the commercial and administrative hub of the Omusati Region.
Outapi was declared a town in 1997 and proclaimed the capital and administrative head of Omusati in 1998. It has a population of 6 600 and is accessible by all residents of the entire Omusati that has a population of 242 900.
Like in any other towns, owning a house has become a distant dream for many due to ever-increasing costs.
However, thanks to the Build Together Programme many Outapi residents who thought they would be condemned to a miserable life of backyard tenancy have seen their lives change for the better.
Build Together is a self-help initiative to house the low and ultra-low income groups. The programme kicked off in 1992/1993 in both urban and rural areas.
According to the infrastructure and technical services manager, Malakia Shikongo, 113 houses have been built already all over the town and 167 people are on the waiting list for the next financial year.
He said that to extend the programme the town council serviced two new extensions, namely Extension 5 and 15 during 2014/2015.
The programme helps households with incomes that do not exceed N$4 000 monthly, low-income households in squatter areas as well as low-middle income households without credit access.
It helps those that do not have money and think they will never own a house because they earn so little.
Build Together has changed the lives of many Outapi residents by providing decent housing close to their workstations.
Some of the beneficiaries expressed their happiness over the fact that they now have roofs over their heads and a place they can call home.
Gideon Sackaria who got a loan of N$34 000 says the programme has made his life easier as he is now living in a house in town and close to where he is working.
‘’Today I am a proud owner of a two-bedroom house,” a delighted Sackaria remarked. The 49-year-old father of four children thanked the government through for giving him the opportunity to own a property through the town council.
Sackaria is now paying back the loan through instalments of N$222 monthly which, according to him is affordable.
Encouraging those unable to afford a decent house, especially residents of Outapi, Sackaria said they can visit the town council’s office to benefit from Build Together.
Another beneficiary Peneyambeko Aushona who was renting a room for N$250 said that she is now using that money to pay for her own house.
“I used to pay N$250 for rent which was worthless because it was not my own place and was not of good condition, with no proper toilet and it was very far from my job. Now I have clean water, proper sanitation and I even live close to my workplace,” she said.
Aushona who received a loan of N$38 000 managed to build a two-bedroom house and now pays N$291 as a monthly instalment on the loan.
But it was not smooth sailing for Aushona as she had been on the Build Together waiting list for five years before she eventually benefited.
She encouraged Outapi residents to approach the town council, apply to the programme and be placed on the waiting list.
• Josephine Nicodemus is a senior information officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Windhoek.