Informal settlements not going away – VP Iyambo

Swakopmund-Chasing away squatters and demolishing illegal settlements would never solve the problem of informal settlements, Vice-President Nickey Iyambo told a gathering of local and regional authority leaders in Swakopmund on Monday. The only way forward, the vice-president said, was for local authorities to find lasting solutions to respond to the needs of squatters and to expedite the delivery of serviced land on which people can build homes and live a dignified life.Iyambo was speaking at the first joint conference of the Association for Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) annual general meeting and the sixth Alliance of Mayors' and Municipal Leaders on HIV/Aids Annual Partners Orientation conference currently underway in Swakopmund.

Attending the conference are about 450 delegates from as far as South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

Iyambo noted that global trends in urbanisation, as corroborated by the country's own experience, indicate that the urbanisation is a growing global phenomenon.

It is projected that by 2020 more than half of the Namibian population, about 66 percent, will be living in urban areas and this could further increase to more than 70 percent by 2030. This shows the battle for national development and poverty eradication will and must be fought in the urban centres, he said.

The conference will discuss how to tackle the pressing challenges of shortage of funds to service town lands, to avail housing programmes, and to address the increase in instances of land grabbing.

Local authorities ought to align their strategic and operational planning to Vision 2030, national development plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan to ensure that we all pull towards an inclusive society and shared prosperity, Iyambo said.

He told the municipal leaders to also ensure that quality and affordable basic services are within the reach of all Namibians in order for the country to achieve its developmental aspirations.

It is important for all of us to raise the bar of service delivery and accountability to win back the trust of our people. Bear in mind that most of them have first-hand experience with the government at local authority level and their perception of government efficiency and effectiveness is formed based on their interaction with local authority leaders, Iyambo said.

Sadly, we often see undesirable situations where local authorities tend to make news headlines for the wrong reasons such as audit reports, suspension of chief executive officers, and questionable land deals and infighting, among others, he said in advising councillors to rather dominate media headlines for the right reasons.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia