Namibia has experienced rapid urbanization since its independence in 1990, accompanied by the growth of numerous informal settlements. About 38 percent of the country’s urban population lives in slums. Namibia’s major cities are marked by the absence of land use regulations, the prevalence of precarious self-built housing and significant urban infrastructure shortcomings, calling for the structuring and implementation of public policies for urban development.
Towards a Solution
The Support to the Urban Development of Namibia project was implemented by Caixa Econômica Federal (CAIXA), a Brazilian state-owned bank with extensive experience in the fields of urban development, housing and management of social programmes, and Namibia’s Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, with support from the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC).
Based on the know-how of CAIXA, this South-South cooperation initiative encompassed three complementary components:
- Support for the formulation of housing policies aimed at low-income populations. To inform the development of affordable-housing policies, a survey of existing Namibian legislation was carried out with officials from the targeted municipalities of Okahandja and Rehoboth and Namibia’s Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, as well as community representatives. After identifying Brazilian policies that could be adapted to the Namibian reality, a housing policy document for the country was debated. Topics discussed included land-use planning, the definition of housing programme beneficiaries, environmental education and public participation. The Brazilian team recommended the adoption of the participatory methodology as a new public policy paradigm in Namibia.
- Transfer of unconventional construction methodologies suitable for the local context. To foster the construction of low-cost housing, a seminar was held on unconventional building methodologies (using local materials and labour), presenting examples from the Brazilian experience. A training session on the soil-cement technique took place in Okahandja municipality, with the presence of representatives of Namibia’s Habitat Research Development Centre and UN-Habitat. Community members who attended the training learned how to produce and lay soil-cement blocks, among other construction details.
- Development of a solid waste management and sanitation pilot project. Successful Brazilian experiences in solid waste management were shared and the situation in Namibia diagnosed. As a result, CAIXA provided training to women waste-pickers, who learned how to collect and store recyclable materials to be sold to recycling enterprises. Through the qualification of their work and by acting according to technical guidelines and in a joint manner, these women were able to increase their income. A diagnosis was done of the solid waste dumpsite where the municipality of Rehoboth disposed of its waste and, based on this, made recommendations to improve urban cleaning management and to carry out environmental education campaigns, the latter of which led to the following developments: the daily weighing of waste (and the ensuing issuance of monthly reports); the fencing of the dumpsite; the provision, by the municipality of Rehoboth, of a shed for the storage of recyclable materials; and the subcontracting of an additional enterprise for waste collection.
To ensure the sustained and scalable impact of the project, the Namibian technicians involved in the activities committed to form a community of practice to further develop the acquired knowledge and share it with additional municipalities. The project is now featured in UN-Habitat’s “Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme” and it was also a great source of lessons for CAIXA, especially since it was the first South-South cooperation initiative implemented by the institution.