SWAKOPMUND: Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Jerry Ekandjo says local authorities possess the capacity to provide enough housing and in so doing, resolve the nationwide housing crisis.
The minister made this statement here on Thursday, during the start of the two-day Erongo Regional Land and Housing Shortage Retreat here.
The retreat was initiated by the Erongo Regional Council as the region faces many challenges related to the vast industrial growth experienced here.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Ekandjo indicated that Central Government has partnered with private, local and regional institutions, community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations in an effort to improve the delivery of housing.
“Despite these efforts, the housing challenge continues to persist as the pace of housing delivery in the country has been slow in relation to the growing urban population that expands at a rate of more than 3,4 per cent per annum,” he said.
However, the minister explained that a big constraint currently experienced in the country is the mismatch between supply and demand, which remains a key concern for policy-makers.
“Addressing this persistent imbalance will not only unleash the full potential of land distribution, the housing market and its contribution to economy, but will address the social aspects related to sustainable and affordable housing,” Ekandjo stated.
He went on to say that despite the fact that housing has been one of the main objectives of the past three National Development Plans (NDPs), the delivery rates have been below expectation, with the total current backlog estimated at 92 000 houses.
This figure is drawn from NDP3 in 2008 which reflected a figure of 80 000 houses needed. This figure increasing by an estimated 3 000 houses annually.
Ekandjo further explained that efforts are being pursued through the Build Together Programme (BTP) and National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to alleviate housing needs, but these fall short of expectations.
The Build Together Programme involves social housing for elders and vulnerable people, urban and rural loans advanced to low income earners through Regional and local authorities, single quarters transformation and informal settlement upgrading.
“The ministry’s annual allocation for the current financial year to the programme stands at N.dollars 80 million calculated for the construction of about 1 300 houses, while N.dollars 25 million has been allocated to NHE,” Ekandjo stated.
The ministry has also availed N.dollars 3,5 million to non-governmental organisation the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia for the 2011/2012 financial year.
“Since the introduction of decentralisation in 1999, 9 609 houses have been built. Some regional and local authority councils still have 3 771 houses to be completed with allocations already met in the past financial years, including the past financial year,” Ekandjo noted.
He added that NHE, BTP and the private sector fall well short of the targets expected to meet the requirements of Vision 2030, and as a result the retreat will seek to reflect upon these challenges and provide possible alternative solutions.
“I consider the reason for the persisting housing backlog to be attributed to Namibia’s housing markets suffering from a variety of structural problems such as high real estate prices,” he said.
The minister applauded the Erongo Region for “taking the bull by the horns” by organising the retreat to address the matter.
Also speaking at the opening of the retreat, Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua explained that the retreat would form a platform for the various attendees from the council and local authorities to address the complications of housing in the region.