A Major Milestone in SDI’s History

by James Tayler


When most people think about SDI they have imageries of pavement dwellers in Mumbai, shackdwellers in Nairobi or backyarders in Cape Town. And as far as actual SDI members are concerned the most well known people are the likes of Jockin, Rose Molokoane, Sheela Patel, Celine d’ Cruz, Joseph Muturi … Of course there are literally millions of unsung heroes in the network.

The Namibia alliance seldom gets the recognition that it deserves (outside of Namibia that is). One of the oldest affiliates, it has an excellent record of women’s empowerment, mobilisation, advocacy, delivery and good governance, but because its urban population is so small it regulary has to stand on the sidelines while the likes of India, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and others receive the attention.

Heinrich Amushila is a very well known figure in Namibia, not only in the alliance but in civil society and Government circles as well. However he has not had reason or opportunity to play a key role in SDI’s international work.

It is a pleasure for the Secretariat to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on the Namibia Federation and on one of SDI’s “hidden” treasures – Hienrich Amushila.

Letter from Anna Muller, Director of Namibian Housing Action Group (NHAG): 

Dear  All 

Today, 21 Years ago Heinrich Amushila and late Erica Gabohumise joined me, meme Elizabeth, and Oom Frans (who retired last year) – all of us squeezed in the backyard building of the historical Gatheman building (where we crowded in the City Centre –  to support the housing processes of the poor in Namibia).

Heinrich started as a young man in his twenties as a community worker, learning together with the community and the support service of the Namibia Housing Action Group to being now the co-manager of NHAG.

Heinrich, I just want to share my appreciation for your dedication and enthusiasm for the community empowerment work and support to me personally, NHAG as an organisation and especially for the Shack Dwellers Federation!   The greatness of what you have done might not be recognised by the world as those of a country president or minister, or with awards, but we all are very well aware the difference your input made in thousands of people’s lives.  This is extremely significant, especially to those households who were empowered to change their lives. Your dedication and patience is an example to all of us!  

 Whatever the challenges we are facing now – we are going the way you propose, slowly step by step, listening to people, giving them opportunities to improve their understanding and making efforts to understand them.  Whatever setbacks we are getting from the political ambitions for a “pretty product” and for a mass housing strategy backed by Government millions to subsidize the contractor built products right now, it is quite clear that our colleagues from the MRLGHRD (Ministry) and previous technical committee are very well aware of our inputs and potential to help scaling up the improvements to those excluded households willing to become actively involved.  People are at the moment discussing (overriding the parastatal NHE’s request to talk about subsidies alone) how the people can be involved in planning and incremental development.

And I am looking forward to still many more years –  (maybe another 21 YEARS! ) of working with you to bring  community’s  people’s  process into scale. 

Be Blessed!!

Anna Muller