Windhoek-The Minister of Urban and Rural Development yesterday acknowledged that the majority of Namibian residents are unable to buy houses and serviced land as market prices are too high.
In a speech read on her behalf, Sophia Shaningwa, who was represented by her deputy, Derek Klazen, cautioned that if the inadequate and unequal access to housing and urban land is not addressed properly, it can be divisive and a potential source of disharmony in society.
“On the other hand, if we come together and develop inclusive, equitable and progressive strategies to tackle it,
“the housing backlog becomes an avenue and opportunity for collective action and investment, as well as unity, solidarity and of contributing to the sentiment of the ‘one nation’ in our respective countries,” she said.
The observations were made at the Shelter Afrique regional meeting for Southern African countries, which is underway in Windhoek.
The two-day meeting is organized by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development in partnership with Shelter Afrique.
Furthermore, Shaningwa said that housing has gained prominence as one of the key national development priorities.
She noted that housing is an important vehicle for addressing poverty and inequality, as well as for bringing about social and economic advancement and ensuring political stability.
The minister observed that housing is cross-cutting in nature and is a key device in targeting Sustainable Development Goals.
These include the goals on poverty, good health and well-being, gender equality, water and sanitation, the reduction of inequalities and making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, she said.
“At national level, the provision of and access to decent housing is one of the key development priorities encapsulated in our Vision 2030 roadmap, National Development Plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.”
The solutions to the housing problem cannot be left to the government alone, Shaningwa said.
Concerted efforts from both the public and private sectors and development financing institutions are required in making the dream of adequate affordable housing a reality, said Shaningwa.
“The ugly picture of mushrooming of slums or informal settlements needs urgent and decisive action from us all.”
She added: “While financing may not be the only requirement for addressing housing, it is no doubt an important catalyst or enabler.”
A range of financing instruments are needed at the various stages of the delivery of housing and related infrastructure products – from servicing to housing construction and end-user mortgage financing, she said.
“Given their recognition of decent shelter as a basic necessity, governments alone will never be in a position to mobilise and provide the requisite resources for housing development.”
In his speech, Zambia’s Minister of Transport, Infrastructure Housing and Urban Development, Ronald Chitotela, said that it is estimated that by 2050 the world urban population would more than double, “which may affect the population, economic activities and social and cultural interactions”.