OTJINENE, 19 JUN – The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) continues to change lives by housing Namibia, one brick at a time, with 4 800 houses constructed under the programme by December 2017.
Not only do would-be homeowners contribute to the design of their new homes, but they actively participate in the actual construction, which creates a virtual lifelong bond with their houses.
The federation services land with equipment it hires and builds affordable houses for low-income groups in informal settlements countrywide.
SDFN members make their own bricks in order to cut costs.
Through its self-help process, the federation provides capacity building to its members in areas of bricklaying and laying water and sewerage pipes to enable them to work on their own land.
The programme has made remarkable strides since its inception in 2001, cementing its footprint in the housing provision sector and successfully integrating low-income earners into the mainstream of the economy.
It caters for some 23 423 members who belong to various saving groups across the country.
The SDFN encourages communities living in shacks, rented rooms and those without accommodation to form saving groups in order to improve their living conditions.
Members contribute nominal amounts ranging from N.dollars 300 to N.dollars 1 000, based on affordability.
Today, the federation has 751 saving groups who had saved over N.dollars 25 million by the end of 2017. Community savings have been used to secure land and to leverage additional government contributions, enabling the groups to acquire land for roughly 6 230 families so far.
The Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) supports the federation.
Heinrich Amushila, NHAG co-director told Nampa recently the commitment of members across the entire network of saving groups has placed the SDFN above the rest in successfully housing Namibia.
He said since the construction of the federation’s first house in 2005, the members have not looked back and continued saving towards their goal of building their own formal dwellings.
“The members have shown commitment and used the power of team work to advance their quest of becoming homeowners. It is such dedication and perseverance that has made the programme what it is today,” he said.
Otjinene in the Omaheke Region is the latest beneficiary of the programme, as 47 residents became proud homeowners a few weeks ago.
This brings the number of houses constructed under the programme in the Omaheke Region alone to 412, with the bulk constructed at Otjinene (202).
The design is simple – a one-bedroom unit with a bathroom and open plan kitchen. Such simplicity of design however does not reduce the value of the house to those becoming owners, as many rate the programme highly for housing them.
More Otjinene residents are set to soon become homeowners following the launch of construction of new dwellings. Fourteen new houses will be constructed here to respond to the shortage of affordable dwelling units for low-income earners and the new units are expected to be completed within the next three months.
Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Derek Klazen made it clear during the ground breaking that the construction should not exceed the envisaged period of three months, as the need for housing is urgent.
“We have a backlog of about 200 000 in housing provision as a government, and this figure grows by 4 000 people every year. The need is urgent and we highly value the work of the SDFN,” he noted.
Standard Bank Namibia, a partner of the SDFN over the past 12 years, last year contributed N.dollars 2 million to the federation’s activities.
The funds were sourced through the national Buy-a-Brick campaign.
Magreth Mengo, Standard Bank’s Head of Marketing told the Otjinene community at the event that the bank will continue supporting the initiative.
“We want people to restore their dignity by becoming homeowners. We want them to be at the same level as any other Namibian and have a comfortable place to call home,” she said.
The Buy-A-Brick project raises funds for the SDFN by selling token bricks in the form of erasers for N.dollars 5 each.
Standard Bank in this way hopes to mobilise the private sector and the public in raising funds required by the federation to build affordable houses for the disadvantaged.
As Amushila puts it; there is no stopping the activities of the SDFN as more houses are on the cards for various towns and settlements across the country.