Windhoek-The housing shortage in the country needs all Namibians to band together in search of viable and lasting solutions. To this end, Standard Bank, as a responsible corporate citizen, has pledged to redouble its efforts to address the housing shortage through its Buy-a-Brick initiative.
These were the sentiments shared by Standard Bank’s Chief Executive, Vetumbuavi Mungunda, during the third launch of the bank’s flagship Buy-a-Brick initiative in conjunction with the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN).
The third launch was held during the Windhoek Show last Thursday. The Buy-a-Brick initiative was initially launched in October 2015 with the aim to help alleviate the housing shortage in the country for no or low-income households, who live in shacks, through the SDFN.
“As Standard bank we have the purpose and drive that differentiates us from the rest, this purpose and drive is what makes us want to come to work every day and that drive is to grow Namibia. Housing is one of the biggest challenges in Namibia and as a group of 1700 people (Standard Bank employees) we looked at what we can do to alleviate some of these challenges in terms of housing,” Mungunda said explaining the birth of the Buy-a-Brick initiative.
He stressed that the initiative, which has helped raise millions of dollars for the SDFN members, is a manifestation of the drive illustrated by the bank’s employees.
“The Buy-a-Brick objectives are to help mobilise funding that will be deployed into building houses for no- to low-income households and to create awareness about the housing shortage and the Buy-a-Brick. Hence, the annual launch of the initiative, which also allows for people to come up with solutions for the housing shortage,” he said.
Since the launch of the initiative three years ago, the bank has raised N$1.4 million, which built 44 houses in Rehoboth. These houses are designed to be extended in the future once the owners come up with more financial resources. For the year 2016/2017, N$2 million was raised for the initiative to build 50 houses in Havana, Berseba and Otjinene.
“The new target is to raise double the amount (N$4 million) for next year. We want to make an effort to double the amount raised the previous year for the following year because that will double in the amount of houses that will be built. I hope we will be able to raise enough to build at least 100 houses next year, thereby achieving the initiative’s objectives,” Mungunda stressed.
He said, “If we keep quiet and refrain from saying anything about the challenges surrounding the housing issues no one will believe that there is a problem and will not work towards alleviating it.
“The housing shortage is not only the government’s problem but all of us as Namibians. We need to work with the government to find a solution.”
Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, who has been a vehement supporter of the initiative,
also attended the event and once again commended the bank and SDFN for its innovative initiative that has seen many families move into their dream brick houses.
“I commend Standard Bank and the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia for their partnership and commitment to the noble task of contributing to our national goal of enabling fellow Namibians to have a decent shelter over their heads. A house is one of the important possessions in a person’s life. It is not just a physical bricks and mortar building, it functions as a home,” she said.
She explained that housing has gained prominence as one of the key national development priorities and an important vehicle for addressing poverty and inequality as well as for bringing about social harmony, economic advancement and ensuring political stability.
“Our presence here today is a re-affirmation of our shared recognition and resolve, collectively as a nation and as individual caring citizens, that all citizens of the Republic have a right to decent and affordable housing,” she noted.
Shaningwa further explained the government’s position and actions in this regard are guided by, and in line with our resolve at international, continental and national levels such as Africa’s Agenda 2063 where our desire for the people of Africa to have access to affordable and decent housing including all the basic necessities of life such as water, sanitation, energy, public transport and ICT.
To date, SDFN membership stands at 22 300 people with a little over 700 groups, who have saved over N$25 million.