By Namibia Housing Acton Group (NHAG) & Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN)
The below report refers to an exchange that took place from 6 – 8 March 2013.
Purpose of the Exchange:
The exchange was initiated by the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG), supporting NGO for the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), in order to expose municipal officials, the federation members and the NGO itself to upgrading as a result of an enumeration process. The municipal officials and community members on the exchange are directly or indirectly involved in the Community Land Information Program (CLIP), Namibia’s version of the enumeration process. Upgrading as a result of this enumeration process has not yet taken place. Cape Town and Stellenbosch provided a great platform for the exchange delegates to learn and influence a change in mind-set and the promotion of a bottom up approach to planning procedures in their local authorities and influence national government policy in the future.
Langrug Site Visit, Stellenbosch:
The exchange started off with a site visit to Langrug informal settlement in Stellenbosch. Trevor, a community leader, explained the outcome of the survey to the delegation:
“Mapping is done in the community to identify all the issues that the settlement is faced with. Alfred from the ISN ‘two years back, enumeration showed the community that they can talk to the municipality. The leadership for the enumeration is divided into sections, with each one having a subject to focus on; from health, social issues and mapping. The lawsuit form the Rupert family brought about the presentation of the needs analysis of the community to the municipality. With the enumeration we focus on building up people so they can build communities. Through the enumeration a working team was created, 16 families were relocated within the settlement. The communities have taken the ownership of their own development and the municipality added value; the current projects in the settlements are the outcome of a needs analysis. Community members are encouraged to make small contributions to get access to development. The important outcome of the enumeration was that it helped the team get the numbers to request for development in the area; especially the grey water runaway passages build by the community. As the enumeration provided a clear view of the people in the area that are affected by different issues, support groups have been formed for health issues. The washroom facility was one of the main outcomes from the project, the community members are assisting in the construction and small contributions will have to be made by the members for the sustaining and usage of the facility. The mapping will also assist the community in the re-blocking process.”
There was also a short introductory meeting with the Stellenbosch Municipality to give an overview of the relationship that has developed between the community and the municipality.
Mshini Wam settlement, Cape Town
The community facilitators from the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) showed the delegation around, explaining the process of re-blocking and the benefits it brought and will bring in the future. Since the structures have been re-arranged there are clear pathways for the community members to easily move around the settlement. The creation of space between the clusters formed provides space for the municipality to be able to bring services in the future as you can see in the photo below. The clusters have been set up in such a way that all the households, doors and windows are facing each other, so as to provide security among the households from possible intruders. Within clusters there are small gardens.
Lessons learnt on the exchange:
- Municipality’s role in the delivery of services through the use of surveys and partnership.
- Projects initiated by the community through enumerations. The norm for Namibia is that communities complete the enumerations, present it to the local authorities with the hope their development needs will be made a priority in planning. Through the exchange we learned that we could push for our own programs in the community, such as the establishment of support groups and the community contribution to facilities.
- There is a need to have agreements signed with the local authorities in order to have a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities when it comes to involving the community in upgrading.
- The budgeting system of the Stellenbosch municipality provided a clear picture on how to prioritize funds for communities involved in upgrading
- Communities pushing the local authority for an upgrading plan to be jointly developed.
The relationships developed on the exchange are important as now the different local authorities have an in-depth understanding of the possible outcomes of enumerations. The federation members and the local authority officials interacted on the exchange thus creating an opportunity to foster an “open door approach” with local government which could lead to important meetings around enumerations and settlement upgrading.
Impacts of the exchange on projects and relationships in Namibia:
- The federation members will start working on programs with the community to promote upgrading options. This will change the normal procedure of always waiting for the municipality to deliver on upgrading. Communities will start working on programs to support each other.
- Planning the layout with the Gobabis municipality to re-block Freedom square (Damara block) informal settlement
- Municipality of Grootfontein to find an approach to involving the community in settlement development programs and signing an agreement with the NHAG and SDFN
- The Community development officer from Keetmanshoop to use the community approach to managing the new reception area in the town.
- Keetmanshoop municipality to strengthen relationship with the community. Work together on finding solutions to the communities housing and service issues in informal settlements.
- Strengthening of collaboration and cooperation on enumerations
- Possible inclusion of the community in the Targeted Intervention Program for Employment Creation and Economic Growth (TIPEEG).
Namibian Delegation. from left; Community Development Officer Gobabis, Councilor Keetmanshoop, SDFN member Keetmanshoop , Community Development Keetmanshoop, Councilor Gobabis. Back; Municipal CEO Grootfontein