“Mapping helps in starting the upgrading process for our communities, as partners in the development process” – Rebekka, Oshikoto Region, Namibia Shack Dwellers Federation
To date, the Namibia Shack Dwellers Federation has completed the only national level informal settlement profile within the SDI Network.
Ms Rosalinda Hendricks reflects: “It all started off with information collection amongst ourselves as federation members who are saving, we developed a questionnaire for profiling, collected information in 235 informal settlements, which was published 2009 with the support of the Ministry of Regional Local Government, Housing and Rural Development at that time. We further also carried out enumerations, interviewing each household in different informal settlements so we can use the data to inform the local authority on the affordability of residents in accessing services, and negotiating for buying land.”
To know where you are and what your neighbourhood looks like is the start of knowing your city. Mapping is an integral part of the enumeration (slum profiling and household level surveys) of slum dwellers federations. Following community mobilization, data collection begins with a community mapping exercise. With nothing more than pens and markers and pieces of paper – usually spread on the floor or another available stable surface – the mapping and the conversation begins!
Community elders, women, and youth gather around, the discussions and debates are lively and filled with excitement. Boundaries are drawn, disputed and redrawn. Landmarks and services are marked out. Then the community drawn boundaries are layered over satellite imagery and the discussion continues. For many community members this is the first time they see their settlement drawn on a map.
But it doesn’t stop here. This map needs to be digitized for it to become useful. Accompanied by community members, their GPS devices and recording sheets, federation members trained as mappers then proceed to walk the boundaries, capture the points and seek out and map the services indicated by the community.
It is Geography Awareness Week and along with community mappers and geographers from all over the world, SDI federations are celebrating the maps they are producing and reflecting on the power of their maps.
Below are some reflections from Namibian federation members actively involved in mapping work on the importance of mapping in their mobilizing, organizing, and upgrading efforts:
Juliane from the Kunene Region:
“Mapping is important to know where the services in the settlement are located and also to know the size of the area. When we do mapping we create awareness on services and encourage the community to start taking action in their own development. Mapping helps us to know how many households are in the area and also the schools. The process gives us an opportunity to discuss solutions around the challenges that we face in the community so we can help ourselves to address our needs. Mapping also helps us inform the municipality on what is going on in the settlement, at most times the officials don’t know.”
Wendelina from Erongo Region:
“Mapping informs us on the size of the land and the conditions of it. Some people built their structures where they are not supposed to do it. If they know the boundaries, it helps gives us more support in our vision of what we want for our community.”
Candy from Zambezi Region:
“Mapping helps us see our community, how big or small it is.”
Ester from Oshikoto Region:
“Once we know how big the settlement is, it helps us plan better and know that the settlement is divided into two. Some locations are big.”
Tuerijandjera community collecting boundary points for the settlement.
Mapping Evululuko in Oshakati.
Freedom Square Enumerations Team, finalising structure mapping and enumerations for upgrading.
The Namibia Shack Dwellers Federation has begun the updating of their historic settlement profile date base on SDI’s global slum database on ONA platform. To date they have profiled 62 settlements, and mapping of 39 informal settlements has been completed. Capturing of the data has commenced on ONA and community members are actively training in data capturing as well. Thus far they have captured 41 of their settlement profiles and uploaded 14 maps.
Data Entry in Oshakati for Evululuko Informal Settlement.
Community collected and captured mapping data available in ONA platform.
Five regions (Omusati, Ohangwena, Karas , Oshana , Khomas) have been actively collecting data in their settlements this past year. This involves community meetings, discussion of development priorities, settlement history, and the mapping of boundaries and services.
The federation has made presentations to various local and regional authorities, encouraging ownership of the information, and supporting the development and strengthening of partnerships between the federation, communities, and local, regional, and national authorities.