Facelift for Freedom Square

08 March 2018 | Infrastructure

The Gobabis municipality in partnership with the Shack Dwellers’ Federation of Namibia and the Namibia Housing Action Group, has managed to turn the Freedom Square informal settlement into an organised, semi-formal settlement.

The municipality, through regular consultations with residents of the informal settlement and other stakeholders, crafted a plan which mapped out how the area should look like.

The project began in 2013 and has received technical support from students of the Namibia University of Science and Technology’s town and regional planning department. The intention is to eventually see the informal settlement formalised, with all the relevant services and amenities present.

Amenities such as communal water taps, community gardens and crèches were identified as necessities by the residents. The previously haphazardly constructed shacks have been aligned in straight rows, making way for streets and other future amenities.

Overall, about 700 informal erven have been made available to people in the informal settlement during the first stage of the project.

The intention, according to the Gobabis municipality public relations officer Frederick Ueitele, is to have these erven serviced during the later stages of the project.

“The process has been going very well and we are proud to have worked so well with the residents. It is an ongoing process and we hope that with the availability of funds, all intended services will be made available in the area,” he said.

Andreas Cloete, a resident of the informal settlement, said the changes have helped bring about order and a sense of organisation. “Previously one would have shacks scrambled together, which made it hard to make your way around them but now we are in a setting that almost depicts a formal residential area,” he said.

Another resident, Fransina Garoes, is of the opinion that the programme has made the informal settlement more hygienic. “We are happy to be living in an environment that is cleaner now. We now await the provision of potable water to each of our erven,” said Garoes.

The project forms part of the Spanish Embassy's Community Land Information Programme, which encourages community members to be part of efforts pertaining to the planning of town land. – Nampa

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