The housing sector in Namibia could be segmented into three (3) broad categories, namely: Ultra Low and Low income earners (blue-collar class); Middle income earners (white-collar class); Upper class (Rich and the superrich). The latter is not experiencing problems in acquiring houses because they are capable of providing collateral or have the means to purchase houses. The middle income earners are in three subcategories namely, the low, lower middle and upper middle.
The latter has enough income to acquire a house through financial institutions.The low and the lower middle income earners, earning between N$ 100.00 and less than N$ 4 600.00 per annum, are the ones who are the hardest hit by housing shortages. These groups do not qualify for housing loans from the financial institutions due to lack of collateral and low income base. They are marginalised in terms of access to affordable and adequate housing. These groups are the targets for low cost housing/ affordable and adequate housing which is being advocated for by the government and NGOs/CBOs in the housing sector.
The concept ‘low cost housing’ has been misinterpreted as housing which does not have quality and would not last and thus has drawn lot of criticism from a wide spectrum of civil society. ‘Low cost housing’ refers to a type of housing scheme that enables low income earners to acquire houses from both the central government through the BTP and other schemes operated by the RC’s/LAs. In order to reduce the cost of the house but not the standards and quality, appropriate alternative/local building materials are used to construct ‘low cost houses’.
The intention is not only to provide shelter to these groups but also to enable these groups to acquire assets that will enhance their living conditions and boost national economic, social and financial growth and ensure peace and stability. The mandate of the housing sector is to provide adequate shelter for all, with basic infrastructure for amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity and roads.
Strategic Initiatives in line with NDP4 Desired Outcome
Facilitate the Provision of Affordable and Adequate Housing in Rural Areas This initiative is aimed at targeting people who are working in the rural areas such as the police, teachers and nurses, agricultural extension officers and others to have access to shelter on temporarily or permanent basis. Those staying in that particular area permanently will be accorded the opportunity to acquire ownership of the property through rent-to –buy basis. With this initiative the government intentions are to attract necessary skills and expertise to the rural areas as well as to stem rural-urban migration.
Facilitate the Provision of Affordable and Adequate Housing for Low Income Groups The housing prices in Namibia are, amongst others, increasing due to the persistent economic crisis which results in increase in inflation, unemployment, lack of serviced land/plots, fuel and other commodity prices. According to the Knight Frank Global House Price Index (2013) Namibia is ranked the fourth (4th) highest in terms of increase house prices, thus making it increasingly difficult for low and middle income groups to acquire housing. One of the methods recommended to arrest this trend is by making use of alternative/local building materials.
Another method is to engage all the actors in the housing sector to make tailor-made packages for low and middle income groups. The initiative is also exploring the development of alternative/local building materials and for inclusion in the Namibia Standards Institute on building materials and construction standard. Therefore this initiative is aimed at providing housing to those with low income.
Ensure Availability of Serviced Land One of the reasons for the rising housing prices and supply having been outstripped by demand is the lack of serviced land. With this initiative the Ministry is looking at strengthening in the implementation of the TIPEEG program with regard to the planning, surveying and provision of basic services to plots/land for residential and other land use purposes with emphasis on low cost housing. The Ministry is emphasising the importance and also improving on pro-active planning with regard to town and regional planning, review of policies and legislative framework which impede delivery of affordable and adequate housing.
Moreover, the sectoral plan is engaging the other role-players to make funding available for development of land.
Promote Good Governance at Sub-national Level One of the hallmarks of sound housing delivery is the availability of land and prudent financial management. This initiative is aimed at strengthening the financial and land management capacities of the RCs/LAs. This will also ensure that those RCs/LAs in flood prone areas will plan better and not build houses in low laying areas and thus protect private property such as houses. Many of the smaller local authorities and in some instances bigger LAs run into debt with service providers and thus utilise funds allocated for other purposes, e.g. BTP which amount to maladministration and further exacerbates housing crisis.
Strengthening the financial management and administration capacities of the RCs/Las will boost implementation of programs such as the BTP and other housing schemes at subnational level.
Ensure availability of land in Walvis Bay and other municipalities along corridor routes The availability of land will amongst others address the challenges of unavailability of land in general and the unavailability of serviced land due to high cost. The pre-emptive planning in the form of providing land will also ensure sustainable provision of land for logistics activities. Provision of land through the spatial planning provides for fast-tracking of townships approval and thus systemic coordinated development.
Development of Master Plan on Regional Urban Centres The provision of housing is best achieved on a sustainable basis in the context of a planning framework, linked with infrastructure services provision. This means that housing should be a component of quality living environments where land use is spatially planned and organised in such a way as will most effectively tend to promote health, safety, order, amenity, convenience and general welfare, as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development and the improvement of communications. The implementation of housing schemes can also not stand apart from good governance and land management and administration principles and capacity in this regard must be built and improved, especially at sub-national government levels.
Major programmes and projects Description of the Programmes/Projects, Expected Outcomes of Each Programme and its Contribution to the Achievement of the NDP4 Desired Outcome for Housing sector: The two (2) programs, Support to Planning, Infrastructure and Housing and Co-ordination of Local Authorities, Regional Council and Traditional Authority Affairs, is aimed at contributing to the achievements of NDP4 Desired Outcomes 5.4 and 6 by delivering on the following critical areas:
- Planned, Surveyed and Serviced land/plots;
- Strengthening the implementation of BTP and other housing schemes;
- Identification and acquisition of land for township expansion;
- Review and harmonisation of existing policy and legislative framework;
- Capacity building at subnational level;
- Improved urban and regional planning processes;
- Development of alternative/local building material;
- Approval of urban and regional structure plans for all the LAs/RCs;
- Development of a National Spatial Development Framework for the whole of Namibia;
- Capitalisation of National Housing Enterprise;
- Financial support to CBOs in the housing sector;
- Introduction of Housing Financial Management and Financial and Land Information Systems;
- Availability of land in Walvis Bay and other local authorities along corridor routes.
- Support to Planning, Infrastructure and Housing programme This program is designed to provide support to Regional Councils and Local Authorities to ensure effective and efficient provision of urban and regional planning, municipal services and shelter in order to improve social and economic living conditions of all citizens in general and of the low-income groups in particular within the context of human settlements development. Under the sectoral plan the effective and efficient delivery of housing is essential to the success of the plan and to meet the goals set out in NDP4 and Vision 2030. The program will also harmonise existing policy and legislative frameworks to eliminate bottlenecks and to improve access to serviced land and the use of alternative building materials. Moreover, the program will further develop a policy and legislative framework to ensure affordable and adequate housing delivery. Implementation of the existing policy and legislative framework will also be speedup to ensure that the conducive environment for housing delivery is strengthened and expanded. The plan is also aimed at making land available in Walvis Bay and other local authorities along corridor routes to support logistic operations.The projects that will be implemented to ensure that of NDP4 Desired Outcomes 5.4 and 6 are met under this programme are:
- Urban/ Rural Housing Loans
- Single Quarters Transformation
- Social Housing
- Rural Housing Scheme
- Nedbank Housing Financing Schemes
- Bank Windhoek Housing Financing Schemes
- Standard Bank Housing Financing Schemes
- Increase in Financial Support to Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
- Recapitalization NHE
- Review of Legal and Regulatory Framework
- Promoting the Use of Local Building Materials
- Provision of Infrastructure in the Regions
- Town Planning, Land Surveying and Design of Services Infrastructure
- Informal Settlement Upgrading
- Government to subside ultra-low income earners
- Co-ordination of Local Authorities, Regional Council and Traditional Authority Affairs Programme This program is intended to facilitate the establishment and development of effective regional and local Government and Traditional Authorities that bring government closer to the people and capable of delivering service to the satisfaction of all communities. Under this program in the sectoral plan, the financial and administrative capital of the subnational government will be enhanced through the provision of appropriate tools such as Housing Financial Management and Financial and Land Information Systems. This will ensure that the land is managed and regulated properly and thus ensure that speculators and property developers do not inflate land/plots prices which has a detrimental effect on low cost housing delivery. Moreover, the capacity of the subnational government in dealing with acquisition and compensation of acquired land will be enhanced.One of the factors restricting the many LAs in their pursuit of economic growth and financial sustainability is the lack of land for expansion. The implementation of the Financial and Land Information Systems will ensure that lack of land for township expansion will not be hampered by unreasonable pricing and that LAs finance is managed properly.The program is also aimed at capacitating LAs in disaster preparedness in order to prevent damage to properties which results in massive financial losses.The projects that will be implemented to ensure that NDP4 Desired Outcomes 5.4 and 6 are met under this programme are:
- Enhance performance and administration of local authorities
- Land Acquisition and Compensation
- Local Economic Development
Challenges In Namibia the Housing Sector is faced with multiple challenges. Amongst others the prices of houses continue to skyrocket due to increase in input costs and the mismatch between the rapidly rising demands for houses versus low housing outputs delivered by housing developers in the housing market annually. The lack of satisfactory budgetary provision by the government for the housing programmes in particular to the Build Together Programme and the National Housing Enterprise further exacerbating housing shortages.
According to 2011 Housing Study carried out by the Bank of Namibia, more than 73% of Namibians do not have access to credit facilities offered by the financial service sector and consequently cannot afford to buy urban land and housing. The provision of affordable housing is also hampered by poor access and affordability of land, especially in the urban areas. The current legislative, policy and regulatory frameworks are another matter that needs to be reviewed to enable housing sector to smoothly and speedily deliver housing without much impediment including acquiring and owning land in the settlement and undeclared areas.
In particular the inflexibility in the current land tenure system exacerbates the lack of right to land ownership and development of it by holders. Overall, it is a known fact that there are no products that cater for the housing need of those without any form of income. Therefore, with high unemployment rate in Namibia there is a sizeable group that does not earn an income, hence do not qualify for a Build Together or a National Housing Enterprise loan. A lack of institutional capacity at central institutions to provide housing to citizens is an escalating constrain, thus it is of utmost importance that such capacity is developed.
The various procedures applicable in the process of acquiring a property in Namibia are also argued to have a bearing on escalating property prices. The auctioning of land and the other bureaucratic processes needs to be streamlined to act as buffer against escalating property prices. There is also a perception that stakeholders, such as property valuators, developers and real estate agents, unnecessarily inflate house prices to rake in maximum profits based on the knowledge that there exists excess demand in the market and they are guaranteed to secure a purchaser for every property with an on-sale tag.