Gobabis Housing

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Focus Areas: Housing

Through this project ninety-one (91) houses were built in Gobabis, a small urban center located 200km from Windhoek. The project formed part of the Namibian Alliance's 10th Anniversary programme, which built and opened 500 new houses across the country. Work on the project started in June 2009 and was completed exactly one year later. Project work was rolled out in two phases, with forty-eight (48) and forty-three (43) houses built in the first and second phases respectively.

Location: Eenhana, Gobabis and Windhoek, Namibia


All nintey-one (91) houses have been completed and are occupied. A number of members have extended their houses at their own expense. A trunk sewerage line has been laid by the Municipality and Federation members are currently saving so that they can dig secondary lines and connect to the system.

Community capacity:

As with almost all Namibian housing projects Federation groups contributed “sweat equity” through the production of concrete blocks that were used in the construction of their houses. Not only does this, and other forms of “sweat equity” such as assistance during construction or the digging of sewer lines to link with trunk infrastructure for example, reduce costs but it also produces potential long term income streams for the Federation.

In addition to this, a Namibian delegation including a Municipal Official from Gobabis and Federation members visited Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe to learn about eco-san dry sanitation. The Federation felt that this type of technology may be applicable in Gobabis - which is an arid area where water is scarce.


In addition to the construction of the houses, the development in Gobabis resulted in improved relationships between the community and the Gobabis municipality. This relationship was deepened further through two community-based planning studios that took place in Freedom Square, the town's largest informal settlement. The first studio, in September 2013, led to the development of a site analysis report that outlined current conditions in the settlement. Rufus Mbathera, a community participant in this studio, outlines the process and some of the findings of the situational analysis.

“The site analysis helped the community to look at improving the settlement. We had to change the living standards in Freedom Square. We wanted water, toilets, electricity and land. During the feedback discussions with the municipality, it was indicated that water lines could be extended into the settlement. Waste management was also an important issue identified by residents.”


The second studio, in March 2014, was jointly conducted in partnership with The African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS) local partner the Polytechnic of Namibia. However the learning during this studio was not limited to academic participants but included officials from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, the Opuwo Mayor and Property Officer representing team members from the UN-Habitat Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, a Community Development official from the City of Windhoek, and officials from the Gobabis Municipality.  Federation members from South Africa and all regions of Namibia, as well as a staff member from CORC with previous studio experiences in the network also participated in the weekend’s activities.


Studio outputs included the drafting of a plan for the upgrading and re-blocking of Freedom Square. Some extracts from the project report provide insights into the process.


"Urban agriculture was raised by Block 8 and 9 on the northern edge of settlement and Block 1 and 2 in the south western corner, when considering the planning for the establishment of community gardens, in response to the natural flow of water in the settlement.  In Block 9 this will act as a catchment area for water flowing from the high part of the settlement located on the foot of the hill, and in Block 1 & 2 the garden will be located on the lower side of the settlement prone to flooding.  The produce from the garden will be used to feed the elderly and the orphans in the settlement."


"The location of shebeens in the settlement caused heated debates covering aspects of registration, ongoing noise through all hours of the day and night, while acknowledging it as a source of income and hence the need for suitable locations.Re-blocking and layouts continued on Sunday in the teams comprising community members, town planning students and professional staff according to the demarcated blocks in the settlement.  Due to threatening weather conditions it was decided to move the “community office under the tree” to the Epako community hall after lunch.  All was amazed that even more community members turned up to complete the designs for their blocks.  Each group presented its layout in preparation for presentation at the official closing session on the Monday morning."



At the local level, this project played a significant role in deepening relationships with Gobabis Municipality with whom a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2013. The first planning studio involving the African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS) led to the upgrading and re-blocking plan for Freedom Square, the largest informal settlement in Gobabis.  Gobabis as the pilot case will be used as a learning center for a country-wide initiative.


The deepened engagement between the Town Council and informal community has been illustrated by a “land discussion” which takes place every two months. In this meeting, Gobabis’s Chief Executive Officer, Town Engineer and other officials meet representatives of the informal settlement community to discuss land and service issues and collectively address challanges.


SDI Contributions:

SDI's capital contribution to this project was US$120,000. As noted with respect to other projects, the Namibian Alliance receives an annual subsidy allowance ranging between NAD2,000,000 and NAD3,500,000 to build 120-150 houses. SDI's funds are used to scale up delivery. 

Resources Leveraged:

Although the intention was that the group will manage the installation of their own services, the government’s Targeted Investment Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) program provided finance to the Local Authorities to install services. Although the installation was done by March 2014, the services were not connected yet.  Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) office is planning to support the group in resolving this issue.  


Four more parcels of land were planned for the groups in Gobabis, but these can only be developed as part of the Settlement Upgrading and reblocking of Freedom Square Informal Settlement. The planning for the upgrading and re-blocking started with a situational analysis last year, following the signing of the first MoU. The layout plan was prepared with the community in March 2014 during the planning studios.  The maps of the layouts were prepared and submitted to the Gobabis Municipality. Drones were used with the support from an American company to do aerial photographs. Quotes were obtained from the Land Surveyors to assist with the surveying.

State Subsidy:

The government’s TIPEEG program provided finance to the Local Authorities to install services in Gobabis. While trunk sewers have been installed housing beneficiaries have to install secondary piped infrastructure to connect to the system. This process is underway in Gobabis and explained in more detail in theSHARE Namibia Sanitation project. 


As noted, the state contributes between 2 and 3.5 million Namibian dollars per annum to the Namibian Alliance for the construction of housing stock as part of the "Build Together" programme. This amount is channelled into the Twahangana Urban Poor Fund which is managed by the Federation and disbursed as loans in accordance with the Fund's regulations. The Fund is grown through both loan repayments and the retirement of subsidies against completed housing stock. The Twahangana Fund is a poor people’s fund which is managed, monitored and disbursed by the Federation.

Market Generated Returns:

None to date. 

Costs recovered from community:

To date US$117,881 has been repaid by Gobabis housing beneficiaries to the Twahangana Fund. Combined with other repayments from across the country, this money has been revolved to support the construction of new houses and amenities as per on the ground demand.

Anna Muller nhag@iway.na (+264) 61 239 398 View Website
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Project information updated: 13 October 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information

Gobabis is situated 200 kilometers from Windhoek, the capital city and en route to Botswana along the trans-Kalahari highway. It is the commercial center of the Omaheke Region which is well known for cattle farming. As with many Namibian towns outside of Windhoek, Gobabis is relatively small with a formal, gridded center and a rapidly expanding informal periphery.

In-migration from the surrounding farming communities has led to an increase in the size of  informal settlements on the fringes of the town placing huge pressure on infrastructure and services. Local authorities have been unable to provide adequate housing and services to meet the rising population demands, especially considering that many households earn below NAD500 (approximately US$40) per month.

The Federation has a long history of activity in Gobabis stretching back to the mid-1990’s. Not only have they organised to build houses (as described in this project) but they have also secured loans for income generating activities such as selling firewood. They have participated in community planning studios (cf. scale section). Over the years the Federation has been able to build a strong working partnership with the Gobabis Municipality (cf. impact section). 

At the national level Gobabis was recently selected as one of the towns which will benefit from the Government’s new Mass Housing Initiative which aims to upgrade housing and services in the town's informal settlements. An annual subsidy allocation of NAD2.5 million is made available to the Namibian Alliance from national government for housing construction and added to the Twahangana Urban Poor Fund from which the housing loans in Gobabis were disbursed. 
The construction of approximately ninety-one (91) houses in Gobabis as part of the Namibian Alliance’s 10 year Anniversary programme. This programme intends to build five hundred (500) houses across Namibia.


Construction of approximately ninety-one (91) houses in Gobabis as part of the Namibian Alliance’s 10 year Anniversary programme which intends to build five hundred (500) houses across Namibia.

Community capacity:

The focus will be on increasing community capacity in housing design and construction (including brick making). 


It is hoped that this project will deepen the relationship between the Federation and the Gobabis Municipality as it demonstrates the Federations ability to deliver housing. This has led to more members accessing land for housing construction. Secondly, on a national level, the project will stand as a practical demonstration of the Federation's capacity to deliver housing and advocate for their inclusion in the new Mass Housing Policy. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$120,000.

State Subsidy:

The Namibian Alliance's annual allocation of between 2 and 3.5 million Namibian dollars, topped up by SDI finance were combined in the Twahangana Fund and used for this project. 

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

As with all Namibian Housing projects it is expected that communities will repay their housing loans in line with the schedules and rules of the Twahangana fund which were devised by the Federation. 

Jauch, H. (2013). Alternatives to TIPEEG, Paper presented at a Parliamentary Forum hosted by the FES in Windhoek, 6 March 2013. [Online]. Available: http://cms.my.na/assets/documents/p19p2lof2leea1r3o1lr0p0u15103.pdf.
Namibian Sun. (2012). TIPEEG Saviour for Unemployment. [Online]. Available: http://www.namibiansun.com/content/business/tipeeg-saviour-for-unemployment.
National Planning Commission. (2011). Targeted Intervention Program for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). [Online]. Available: http://www.mcanamibia.org/files/files/f7d_TIPEEG.pdf
SDFN. (2013a). Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia signs MoU with the Municipality of Gobabis. [Online]. Available: http://namibia-shackdwellers.blogspot.co.za/2013/08/shack-dwellers-federation-of-namibia_16.html

SDFN. (2013b). Namibia's First Studio: Freedom Square Informal Settlement Residents and Students from the Polytechnic of Namibia Prepare for Upgrading. [Online]. Available: http://namibia-shackdwellers.blogspot.co.za/2013/09/freedom-square-informal-settlement.html.

SDFN. (2014). SDI-AAPS Planning Studio. [Online]. Available: http://namibia-shackdwellers.blogspot.co.za/2014/03/sdi-aaps-planning-studio.html.

Funding Information



Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Shack Dweller's Federation of Namibia (SDFN)

Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG)