The Agony of Living in a Riverbed

Martha Moses, her partner and three minor children live in a tiny shack erected in an Otjiwarongo riverbed.

They live in deplorable conditions, capped by the fact that they do not have a job.

Also, the fact that they live in an area that has no basic municipal facilities such as toilets is at times really hard for Moses and her family.

The struggle to survive is not only limited to Moses, her partner and three children. Her situation is a reflection of what other residents of the DRC and Telecom informal settlements in Otjiwarongo go through.

Complaining about “empty promises by politicians during election campaigns”, the residents are without basic services such as housing, electricity, water and ablution facilities.

The informal settlements are also engulfed in waste and sewage water running among the shacks – a situation residents have described as unhygienic especially for children who often play in the streets.

Some of the aggrieved residents have vowed to boycott the Presidential and National Assembly elections next week Friday. Declared a public holiday, many residents plan to use the day as another platform to do whatever they can to put food on the tables of their families.

Moses – who lives in deplorable conditions with her family on the outskirts of the Telecom informal settlement – said she will not participate in the elections set to take place in a week’s time due to the severe poverty she finds herself in.

She and her partner have erected their shack in a riverbed with other people who find themselves in the same situation.

“I have been voting for Swapo all my life. I have voted for Sam Nujoma and President (Hifikepunye) Pohamba but nothing changed in my life,” she said.

“I have small children with nothing to feed them. We live in a riverbed and when it rains we get flooded. How can we call this place home? So why should I vote this year again if there is no improvement in our lives? I can’t keep voting for people and then they go and sleep comfortably,” Moses bemoaned.

She also complained that they have no running tap water and end up paying between N$4 to N$5 per 25-litre container to those who have access to clean drinking water.

The areas also have no toilets and people are forced to go and relieve themselves in the bushes when nature calls, which they say is extremely dangerous especially at night.

Asked how she and her family survive on a daily basis, she said times are hard because they are unemployed, therefore she moves around begging people to do their laundry for her to put bread on the table.

“I normally go and wash people’s clothes so that I get bread. I am also not so healthy because I have knee problems,” she said.

Although residents of the DRC informal settlement with similar problems said they will vote in the upcoming elections, they too want their lives uplifted in terms of basic service provision.

“You can see how we are living here. We are unemployed. We want government to help us with small loans to start our own businesses,” appealed Veronica Namhidi, while breast-feeding her baby under a tree and selling sweets, chips and ‘monkey oranges’ (omauni) with three other struggling women.

“We don’t have an open market that is why we sell our things under the tree. We also want an open market where we can trade our goods like other towns such as Oshakati and Walvis Bay.”

Meanwhile, Paula Naita who is a mother of two said they need clean water, toilets and electricity.

“It is like we are homeless here. We are tired of empty promises but we will go and vote. We don’t know if they will really come and build us houses once the elections finish,” she charged.

Source : New Era