Efraim Dawids, (CEO Gobabis Municipality), Mariana Bernardus (SDFN) and Anna Muller (NHAG) with signed documents
By Royal Mabakeng, NHAG (Namibian Housing Action Group)
The Community Land Information Programme (CLIP) implemented by the Federation, community, Municipality of Gobabis and NHAG has already enumerated all four informal settlements in Gobabis (approximately 6000 people). In March 2013 a group of Namibians, including a Gobabis municipal official and a community member visited Stellenbosch and Cape Town to learn about upgrading. This inspired the Gobabis delegation to involve the informal settlement community in their own upgrading and to prepare for an MOU with the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia.
On the 15th August 2013 the first MOU with a Local Authority in Namibia was signed under the same tree where the first Gobabis saving group began 15 years ago. This historical tree is next to the largest informal settlement in Gobabis, Freedom Square (previously Damara Block), home to approximately 3000 people.
Elfriede Kujane from Turipamwe saving group in Gobabis explained how excited she was during the ceremony. The community have been working with the municipality to obtain land and construct houses for over 120 households. “ The day has come for us to put it on paper. If new councillors don’t know about the federation but now we have put it on paper nd they will know about us.
The 400 community members who attended the signing ceremony were relieved to learn that Freedom Square residents will not be relocated. They will be the first informal settlement community in Gobabis to be directly involved in their own upgrading. As part of an agreement between Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and the African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS), a planning studio with students from the Polytechnic of Namibia will begin in September 2013. The studio will assist in developing an upgrading strategy and plan for Freedom Square.