To accelerate service delivery and help calm emotions around urban land the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, said she needs more financial resources than what Treasury allocated her ministry this financial year.
She made the plea last week during her motivation of the ministry’s total budget of approximately N$1.952 billion allocated for the 2017/18 financial year.
“You will agree with me that the urban and rural development sector deals with some of the emotive issues in the country, namely access to serviced urban land, housing, regional and local authority governance, and we require more resources than what we were actually allocated,” she said.
But despite the financial constraint, Shaningwa said she is grateful and will do what she can with what has been allocated to the ministry.
She said about N$104.925 million has been allocated to the rural development programme that aims to improve the livelihood of people who reside in rural areas by creating opportunities and empowering them to initiate and take part in employment-creation and income-generating self-help development projects.
The minister noted that with the budget of the past financial year, a total of 355 self-help income and employment-generating community projects were supported through rural development programme activities.
This, she says, has in turn created employment and income-generating opportunities for 2 460 beneficiaries countrywide.
In terms of improving sanitation and access to proper toilet facilities at household level in rural communities, Shaningwa said due to limited resources the ministry only commissioned the construction of 2 571 toilets of which 470 are fully completed.
“We will use the 2017/18 budget to continue and expand our interventions that are aimed at improving the livelihood of our fellow country women and men who reside in rural areas, and who often have more social and developmental challenges than their counterparts who reside in urban areas.”
For support to planning, infrastructure and housing development, she said about N$519.100 million has been allocated.
Under this, Shaningwa said, the ministry will continue to expand the mass housing and mass urban land servicing programmes, adding that about N$7 million has been allocated to the Shack Dwellers Federation during this financial year.
Due to combined efforts by the government and community-based organizations such as the Shack Dwellers Federation, as well as through public-private partnerships, the ministry managed to build 5 058 housing units during the 2016/17 financial year.
In an attempt to accelerate land delivery, N$31.9 million will be allocated to local authorities to enable them to effect fair compensation to communities for loss of their communal land and homesteads due to the inclusion of their land in town boundaries. With the budgetary constraints local councils currently face, they have struggled to compensate landowners over the years.
Shaningwa said the N$31.9 million is part of the allocated budget to support and enhance the operational and service capacity of regional councils and local authorities as well as recognized traditional authorities.
She revealed that N$767 million is a subsidy to regional councils, while N$53.8 million is to be used to subsidise local authorities.
The N$31.9 million falls under the coordination of regional councils and local and traditional authority affairs, which will receive N$963.062 million.
Shaningwa said that despite the various challenges experienced and the noted instances of poor performance and poor service delivery by a number of regional and local authority councils, these sub-national governmental structures have been developmental role players in society.
“This thus justifies the continuous strengthening and expanding of their capacity to serve as effective instruments and transmission belts of government services and development at regional and local government levels,” she noted.
The chief executive officer of Oniipa Town Council, Junias Jakob, recently told New Era that they are sitting with the cards of people whom the Ministry of Land Reform has evaluated for their communal land and homesteads, but then the council does not have enough money to compensate those people.
However, so far they have evaluated 20 landowners, but council has only procured N$900 000 instead of the N$1 million needed to compensate the people affected.
Another allocation Shaningwa highlighted is the procurement of fire-fighting vehicles and the construction of fire stations to help local authorities effectively respond to fires and related disasters, which is to get N$10 million.