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Namibia public housing initiative changes lives of shack dwellers

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- For many years, Abel Phillip, 57, had lived in a cramped one-bedroom shack with his wife and six children in an informal settlement on the outskirts of capital Windhoek.

He could not afford to buy a decent house. As such, when it rained, the family would run up looking for ways to keep water leaking from his shack roof from flooding his home made out of corrugated iron.

“The children would seek ways to place buckets strategically at leaking points to prevent water from filling our small home. It was thwarting,” he said.

But the life of the war veteran changed in February when he received the donation of a house from President of Namibia Hage Geingob.

Today, the family enjoys the rain as it drizzles on the roof instead of running around looking for buckets.

The donation marked the launch of the Harambee Housing Initiative, aimed at mobilizing resources and advocating for new strategies and building alternatives to address housing shortage and backlog that the country faces.

The donation, said Geingob, is an effort by the government and stakeholders in its quest to provide decent housing to Namibians.

“If all stakeholders across all sectors commit to helping other Namibians and look beyond own circumstances by considering the need of others, we will be able to meet the demand for housing,” said the president.

The house was constructed by the German Polycare Research Technology and a local company named Kavango Block Bricks, using the modular assembly technology and alternative building materials introduced to Namibia at the Investment Conference held in Windhoek in November 2016.

A standard two-bedroom house such as that of Phillip would cost from 600,000 to 800,000 Namibian dollars (45,000 to 58,000 U.S. dollars), but the modular assembly technology would bring down the cost by 200,000 Namibian dollars (15,000 U.S. dollars).

Phillip applauded the government for helping people living in shacks like him who are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford decent housing.

“I was in awe when I heard that government have donated a house to me and my family. I asked how much we would have to pay, and to my relief I was told that it was free donation. I am grateful,” said Philip on Tuesday afternoon at his new home in Otjomuise.

The government has reiterated that it’s committed towards the provision of decent housing. “I am sure that the handover of this house is just the beginning and our housing delivery initiative is a work in progress and we hope to announce similar housing success in a few months and years,” said Geingob.

As such, more houses would be built using modular assembly technology in the central town of Okahandja once a Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the Namibian and German governments.

Meanwhile, Minister of Rural and Urban Development Sophia Shaningwa called on local authorities in which the project will be rolled out to avail serviced land to property developer for the government to be able to deliver affordable housing to all citizens to eradicate homelessness.

“I long, pray and wish for my fellow people who have been living in shacks to also get a decent home like I have,” said Phillip.



Namibia January inflation rises to 7-year high

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s annual inflation rate in January surprised on the upside to a seven year high of 8.2 percent compared to 7.3 percent recorded in December 2016, the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) said Wednesday.

The increase, which was 2.9 percentage points higher than the 5.3 percent registered in January a year earlier, was mainly attributed to price increases registered in the categories of Food and non—alcoholic beverages (13.2 percent), Hotels, restaurants and cafes (9.8 percent), and Furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house (9.5 percent).

On a monthly basis, the price levels increased to 3.2 percent from 0.2 percent recorded last month. This is the highest monthly inflation rate recorded for the last 14 years, the statistics agency said.



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