January 2002

The World Bank
AFTU 1 & 2


CMA Common Monetary Area
CoW City of Windhoek (same as WCC)
DD Detailed Design
Erf Plot
Erven Plots
FS Feasibility Study
GON Government of Namibia
KfW Kreditanstalt fur Wiedereraufbau (German Aid)
LA Local Authority
LCHPIII Low Cost Housing Program III
NGO Non-governmental Organization
NHE National Housing Enterprise
NTF Norwegian Trust Funds
SACU South African Customs Unit
UUN Urban Upgrading Network
WCC Windhoek City Council (same as CoW)



1.1 The Country
1.2 Urbanization
1.3 Problems

2.1 Housing Characteristics and Location
2.2 Profile of Low Income Community Residents

3.1 Policy Context
3.2 Institutional Framework

4.1 Summary of Upgrading Policy
4.2 Overview of Initiatives
4.3 Objectives and Approach
4.4 Land
4.5 Principles and Guidelines for Upgrading
4.6 Community Participation
4.7 Financial Aspects
4.8 Overview of Implementation Arrangements
4.9 Operation and Maintenance

Reception Areas, Windhoek (1991-99)



Annex A: Country and City Profiles
Annex B: Bibliography - Key Documents Studied
Annex C: Contact Information
Annex D: Land Needs and Constraints
Annex E: Upgrading Programs/Projects
Annex F: Development Levels and Services Standards Matrix
Annex G: Windhoek City Council Upgrading Guidelines
Annex H: Summary of Upgrading Typologies (All countries in SSA)


Background to Study

The Africa: Regional Urban Upgrading Initiative, financed in part by a grant from the Norwegian Trust Fund, is examining and selectively supporting urban upgrading programs in Sub-Saharan Africa through a variety of interventions. One component of the initiative focuses on distilling lessons from three decades of urban development and upgrading programs in the region. Specifically, the objective of this component is to assess what worked and what did not work in previous programs for upgrading low-income settlements in Africa, and to identify ways in which interventions aimed at delivering services to the poor can be better designed and targeted.

As a first step, rapid assessment reports were commissioned for five Anglophone countries (Ghana, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia) and five Francophone countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal). Each of the ten Country Assessment Reports provides an overview of the history of upgrading programs and policies in a given country and presents project or community specific case studies to identify lessons learned. Taken together, these ten reports offer insight into the nature and diversity of upgrading approaches in Africa and highlight some of the challenges in and lessons learned about delivering services to the poor.


This paper is one of a series of ten country assessment reports. The study was managed by Sumila Gulyani and Sylvie Debomy, under the direction of Alan Carroll, Catherine Farvacque-Vitkovic, Jeffrey Racki (Sector Manager, AFTU1) and Letitia Obeng (Sector Manager, AFTU2). Funding was provided by the Norwegian Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (NTF-ESSD) and the Africa Technical Department (AFT). Alicia Casalis and Chris Banes conducted the field work for the five Francophone and five Anglophone countries, respectively, and also prepared the draft reports for each of their five countries. Genevieve Connors provided extensive comments and was responsible for restructuring and finalizing the reports. Nine of the reports were edited by Lisa Van Wagner and the Zambia report was edited by Nita Congress.


1.1 The Country

Located in southwest Africa, Namibia is a large country of approximately 824,000 sq. km, with a small population of 1.7 million in 1999. Population density is close to two persons per square kilometer. The country has strong economic links with South Africa and is a member of the South African Customs Union (SACU) and the Common Monetary Area (CMA). The country is rich in minerals and its exports include diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium, cattle and processed fish. The Gross Domestic Product per capita is approximately US$2,000 (1998).

Geographically Namibia is characterized by three physical regions: a low lying coastal belt largely made up by the Namib desert along the western Atlantic coast; a central plateau averaging about 1,100 meters in elevation; and, the Kalahari desert along the eastern border. Apart from four permanent rivers, all of which form international boundaries, there is virtually no other surface water. It is bordered on the north by Angola and Zambia, on the east by Botswana and South Africa, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is generally hot and dry and availability of freshwater is a major problem.

1.2 Urbanization

There are two major urban areas, namely the capital city, Windhoek (approx. 235,000 population) and the center of the fishing industry, Walvis Bay (60,000 popn.) located on the skeleton coast. Windhoek is located inland in the central region some 350 km from the coast while Walvis Bay lies some 30km south of the small coastal resort of Swakopmund (15,000 popn). These three urban areas together make up over 70 percent of the country’s urban population which accounts for about 33 percent of the country’s total population. The bulk of this study covers Windhoek being the city with the greatest number of informal settlements.

Following independence from South Africa in 1990, and the correspondent elimination of the apartheid-inspired measures controlling the movement and settlement of people, informal settling in Windhoek increased dramatically, mostly around the old “black” township of Katatura. The migration was largely driven by a search for employment opportunities and a better quality of life. In-migration accounted for about four percent of Windhoek’s growth from 1991 to 1995 (over 7,000 people per annum), the vast majority of who were in the “low-income” category. The overall population growth rate has been more than five percent per annum since 1991. Based on 1995 projections the City of Windhoek’s population will reach 420,000 by year 2010. Further details are summarized in the Country and City Profiles in Annex A.

1.3 Problems

The accelerated influx of migrants into Windhoek after 1991 caused progressive settlement growth on open council-owned land as well as considerable shelter and servicing problems for the Windhoek City Council (WCC). WCC realized that there was a need for a substantial increase in serviced land delivery in order to keep pace with the booming urban population, particularly for the low-income sector.

Based on 1995 projections, in 2001 it is estimated that almost 30 percent of the population living in Windhoek (including nearby Katatura) live in informal, unplanned communities, in sub-standard structures on un-surveyed land without legal title. Although most households in the informal areas have access to safe water, communal taps are within considerable walking distance and fewer than 20 percent of the households are connected to a waterborne sewerage network. Presently there are at least 8,000 informal settlement households excluding backyard shacks. Of these approximately 3,000 are settled in Reception Areas (see below) with communal services provided by the city and the remainder elsewhere on open land with few basic services. Private and public sector developers (e.g., National Housing Enterprise) provide housing but this is limited and available only to the middle and upper-income households.

During the period 1991-1999, Windhoek developed a number of formal low-income housing schemes. However, the serviced plots provided were unaffordable to the vast majority of the poor. Between 1991-94, in response to the influx of poor urban migrants, the city developed three Reception Areas that were intended to be “temporary.” The concept was that people would be resettled in accordance with WCC’s squatter policy of the time. Not surprisingly, this did not happen. The areas attracted further settlers even before the sites had been laid out or could be provided with rudimentary services. Details of the schemes are outlined in Section 4 and a more detailed analysis described in Section 5.

The shortcomings of the Reception Area approach led WCC to develop new policies and strategies for dealing with urban low-income residents, and projects are now being planned and designed in accordance with the new policies. Implementation of the first of such schemes is about to commence. The new policies and strategies are summarized in Section 3.



2.1 Housing Characteristics and Location

Apart from some flat land in the south of Windhoek, most flat land is now developed and current formal and informal development is also taking place on the fringe of hilly country in the north and northwest of the city. In this area soils are generally rocky with little topsoil cover in the sloping areas, few trees and little shade.

In the period 1991-94 the WCC established two “Reception Areas” which were intended as temporary places until people could be resettled in accordance with current squatter policy. In 1992 the first reception area (Havana, formerly called Big Bend) was established, followed by Okuryangava Extension 6 (locally referred to as Babylon and Kilimandjaro). In 1998 a third Reception area (four blocks in Goreangab) was developed. These areas consisted of tracts of land where earth roads were cut to a rudimentary layout, lifeline water supply was provided and, in some cases, communal toilet facilities were also provided. People settled in shacks of corrugated metal sheeting on plots of 300 square meters, set out in blocks. It proved very difficult to resettle people to these areas and major land invasions occurred prior to site layout and construction. The City Council was unable to contain growth within the planned boundaries of the reception areas.

Eventually, the WCC created an “in-situ upgrading” initiative and decided, along with the target communities in these upgrading areas, to honor the natural settlement patterns and densities that had developed. This would minimize social disruption from resettlement, increase the possibility of providing affordable improvement solutions, and decrease pressure on the Council to simultaneously develop land elsewhere. The concepts of communal block tenure and shared communal service facilities were used and communities welcomed the upgrading initiative and shared ownership on a communal block basis.

2.2 Profile of Low-Income Settlement Residents

In 2000, Windhoek's total population was estimated to be 235,000. A 1995 local survey estimated that the population of the city was 182,000 and would double within 10-12 years. According to the survey, the annual population growth rate was 5.4 percent of which 3.9 percent was the net migration gain. Thirty-two percent of the migrants settled in informal areas, at 3.7 persons per household. The household size in the informal areas, in the north and northwest, was low compared with the citywide average of 4.1 persons per household. The average monthly household expenditure in these areas, respectively, was approximately US$190 and US$80 compared with the Primary Household Subsistence Level for Windhoek of approximately US$140. Unemployment was approximately 22 percent among those seeking employment, and female-headed households numbered about 26 percent. The survey also revealed that the housing need in the northern and northwestern areas was most pressing as about 93 percent of this low-income population were not able to afford a housing solution costing more than US$8 per month.

The city’s household registration surveys of 1997/1998 provide further information on the profiles of low-income households. A study of three informal groups indicated that almost 50 percent of poor households earned less than N$500 (US$80) per month, a further 15 percent approximately less than N$800 (US$130) per month and another 20 percent approximately less than N$1340 (US$240) per month. The income of 80 percent of the sample households was well below the primary household subsistence level of 1999 of N$1318 (US$220) per month.

In 1999, the average cost of a communally serviced plot (erf) was approximately N$7,200 (US$1,200). Based on the above figures and assuming an expenditure of 15 percent of total household income for individual plot acquisition, only about 17 percent of all target (low-income) households could afford to purchase an individual serviced plot of 300 square meters.


3.1 Policy Context

The National Housing Policy provides the following guidelines concerning standards and principles for low-income development, which are relevant to development of the shelter sector in Windhoek. For squatter resettlement, the policy requires a minimum of a communal toilet within 30 meters, access to communal potable water within 200 meters and a roofed structure of durable materials of not less than 6 square meters. Plots for low-income housing should not normally be less than 300 square meters. With the consent of the Minister, smaller plots may be permitted where this is justified by the design, implementation or marketing concepts of individual projects. The guideline for minimum erf sizes recognizes the need for adequate space in order to accommodate extended family structures and play areas for children.

An appropriate, realistic policy context for upgrading in Windhoek now appears to have been established. The Access to Land and Housing Policy of January 2000 is guided by the Istanbul Declaration of 1996 which states that “everyone should have adequate shelter that is healthy, safe, secure, accessible and affordable and that includes basic services, facilities and amenities, and should enjoy freedom from discrimination, in housing and legal security of tenure.”

This policy and the Development and Upgrading Strategy focus on three main areas:

1. Participating and co-operating to recognize, support and enhance community self-reliance, organization and partnerships
2. Reaching beneficiaries and securing land title and housing according to affordability and standards
3. Affirming favorable access to land and housing on a sustainable basis

As revealed in their names, the policy and the strategy cover both new or “greenfield” residential areas for the poor (sites and services) as well as the upgrading of existing settlements, both formal and informal. Thus the city is taking a holistic approach to the problem of land, housing and services for the urban poor by tackling the problem on two fronts, as is required in the whole region. Programs and projects are required to deal with existing deficient settlements (the “backlog”), and to deal with natural population increase and in-migration (the “growth”). The focus is on upgrading of existing settlements, whether they are formal or informal. Currently the city is at the very early stages of implementation of projects formulated in accordance with the new policy and upgrading strategy. At present, upgrading projects are waiting for the relief of human resource constraints within WCC and have yet to commence, but two sites and services projects have been developed.

3.2 Institutional Framework

The Local Authorities Act defines the role of local authorities as, inter alia, establishing and financing housing schemes, establishing a housing fund, and providing services. In Windhoek, the overall management of these processes falls under the main Council and its Management Committee. The Access to Land and Housing Policy requires that a Housing Committee be established to handle all housing matters. Key stakeholders in the sector are represented on the Committee including NGOs, such as the National Housing Action Group and the Shack Dwellers Federation, as well as WCC departmental staff.

The functions and responsibilities of the Housing Committee, which advises the Management Committee, set the direction in the process of facilitating access to land, services and housing. These roles and responsibilities include consideration of feasibility studies conducted under the upgrading policy and strategy; action plans; housing standards; creating environmental awareness; ways and means of enhancing economic development; community participation; conflict resolution in communities; and monitoring and evaluation of programs.

The policy recognizes that service delivery is intertwined with housing provision and that Municipal Service Departments have a key role to play if affordable low cost services are to be achieved. It also defines the role of self-organized groups, neighborhood committees, steering committees, NGOs, financial institutions and the private sector. These committees are to act as a channel of communication with Council, involving community leaders in all aspects of land, services and housing delivery. They will monitor progress, assist in addressing conflict situations, facilitate the establishment of community meetings and monitor the allocation of land to the various communities. The committees form the core management group for the implementation of the settlement guidelines and are to be legal entities.

Thus an institutional framework appears to have been put in place to ensure that the concerns and aspirations of all stakeholders involved in housing and upgrading are taken into account during program development and implementation. An appropriately resourced (human and financial) department or directorate within the WCC to drive the process is now the key requirement for moving forward rapidly.

Namibia’s towns and cities are responsible for the provision, operation and maintenance of most municipal infrastructure and services. Roads, drainage, water supply, sewerage, electricity distribution, streetlighting and solid waste management are all functions that are the responsibility of municipalities. Although this places great onus on the WCC to provide services, the fact that the City is the responsible agency for almost all basic infrastructure and service provision, rather than a number of other utility organizations, simplifies the planning, design, financing and implementation of initiatives for upgrading poor settlements as well as the development of low cost housing schemes.


4.1 Summary of Upgrading Policy

The previous section sets out the current policies, strategies and institutional framework behind upgrading initiatives. In Windhoek, instruments appear to be in place to permit the upgrading and regularization of informal settlements. Generally, there is recognition that the old policy of temporary reception areas is no longer a viable option. The WCC together with some donor support, is beginning the attempt to address upgrading the informal settlements and has formulated a program and engaged consultants for the planning and engineering of initial schemes. The new schemes are based on provision or improvement of basic services and security of tenure. They include specific initiatives that recognize what the beneficiaries can afford. For instance, acknowledging that not all settlers will be able to afford to purchase their plot, the WCC offers renting as an option for tenure. The WCC Access to Land and Housing Policy takes a holistic approach by also aiming to develop new sites for low-income families in tandem with upgrading existing areas.

As the scarcity of both human and financial resources is likely to be a constraint, thought needs to be given to securing financial resources to be able to scale-up schemes (i.e., do more schemes more quickly) and also to securing similar resources (e.g., Banks and Building Societies) to provide long term housing finance for beneficiaries, and which responsibility should not fall to the WCC. Minimizing financial risk to the WCC is another of its underlying upgrading principles.

The model proposed by the WCC is the upgrading of settlements, or “blocks” within settlements, with basic infrastructure and services, the standards of which are matched to the affordability of the existing occupiers. The model also allows residents to be able to purchase and obtain title (lease) to their plots (erven). This model, which attempts to achieve substantial cost recovery (although it is presently unclear what value/cost should be placed on the land) is largely sustainable.

4.2 Overview of Initiatives

Formal Low-Income Development Initiatives

During the period 1992-1999, Windhoek developed about 800 low-income erven with full services in Otjomuise, almost 3,000 low-cost erven in Goreangab, and offered large numbers of low-cost erven in Okuryangava Extension 5 to poor clients. Almost all these erven were taken up by the NHE, private persons and Build-Together clients of Government.

Despite these major efforts by the Council to supply developed land to poor clients, the number of informal households outside the reception areas continued to grow. Every single piece of open land in the Okuryangava and Goreangab Extensions was progressively filled up by illegal settlement.

Conditions in the informal areas are precarious. Excluding the reception areas, where sanitation has been provided, environmental and health conditions in other informal areas are invariably fragile. The city has been unable to keep pace with the unprecedented influx of poor people and the associated demands they have placed on available land and basic services in the Windhoek Basin. Conventionally serviced land is no longer an appropriate or sustainable low-cost development option for the city’s poor.

Informal Settlements (pre-1998)

Prior to the advent of spontaneous settlement in Windhoek, the WCC realized the need to provide land for its neglected low-income sector in order to manage the establishment of uncontrolled informal settlements. However, in the 1980s its application to establish low-income development at Otjomuise was rejected by central government planners.

Between 1991-94, the “Reception Areas” were established, but those who settled in the ostensibly temporary settlements proved difficult to resettle. New policy guidelines on informal settlement were approved in 1995, and in early 1996 an “Implementation Strategy for the New Informal Settlement Guidelines” was also approved. Dedicated staff were also appointed to drive the new Windhoek Settlement Program. The new policy prescribed an end to reception areas and only minimal resettlement. A range of new policies and strategies for implementing them was introduced and an Informal Settlement program was prepared in 1997.

Informal Settlements (post-1998)

Despite this new direction, progress was still considered slow and in the middle of 1998 there was further restructuring and transformation within the WCC. By early 1999 it was decided to commence land development for the poor through an annual parallel development process of in-situ upgrading and new township development. More vigorous institutional structures were formed to implement settlement action plans with greater involvement of planners, engineers and communities (see Section 3.2). A Community Development Division was created within the WCC alongside a Sustainable Development Division within the Department of Planning, Urbanization and Environment.

Annual action plans were developed to embrace the city’s new development approaches to physical upgrading in order to systematically reduce the backlog of registered informal households and provide sites and services for resettlement purposes and for receiving the new urban migrants — the “planned new township” part of the dual-pronged approach. Each annual plan was to physically upgrade three existing informal groups and to identify, plan and service six new township extensions (1,700 erven per annum).

After the WCC had funded about two years of preparation work, German Aid (KfW) offered to fund the implementation of a Low Cost Housing Program, known as LCHPIII. A new feasibility study was then carried out. Only very low-income households were to benefit. A total of six upgrading projects and three sites and services projects benefiting some 3,000 families were to be supported through the grant over a three-year period. However, while KfW required more flexibility with regard to plot sizes, GON wished to remain with its policy (part of the National Housing Policy) of a minimum of 300 square meters per plot. The lack of agreement in this area was not resolved and was thought to be a major factor ultimately resulting in KfW withdrawing their proposed support for LCPHIII in May 1999. The initiative was then discontinued due primarily to funding considerations.

A further study by WCC of the state of informal settlements then looked at two modified options for servicing the erven in informal settlements: either (1) communally serviced or (2) fully serviced. The study found that the latter option was affordable by only about 20 percent of the occupants. Thus two new lower “development levels” were introduced, adding to the four existing levels at the time (see details in Annex F). A sites and services development was implemented first with these new development levels. Similar projects were then undertaken for the existing informal settlements. A community was selected and a feasibility study was completed in late 2000. Consultants have recently been appointed for planning and design, which was due to commence in May 2001. The settlement, Havana Section 2, accommodates approximately 1,000 erven.

Two other areas with over 1,000 erven are also being proposed (Okahandja Park A, B and C and Ongulumbashe 1 and 2). In addition other settlements (approximately 15) are to be upgraded northwest of Katatura, using largely community-driven techniques and self-help labor for implementation. This project, which will upgrade between 3,000-4,000 erven, is to be funded with Spanish Aid. Currently slated initiatives all together cover approximately 8,000 of the existing informal settlement households in the city (although it is understood that WCC believe many of these would need to be resettled rather than upgraded). It is planned that implementation would be complete in 3-5 years. Annex E sets out in tabular form details of the informal settlement program (both upgrading and resettlement) and the status of implementation.

4.3 Objectives and Approaches

The objectives of the new policy for providing access to land and services for the low-income population are:

  • To strive towards providing all low-income target groups of the city with a range of access and housing options in accordance with their levels of affordability
  • To establish uniform housing standards for different development options
  • To set parameters for orderly incremental upgrading
  • To facilitate access to land, services, housing and credit facilities
  • To establish a participatory process and to facilitate self-help development
  • To secure land tenure
  • To promote a safe and healthy environment and to increase the quality of life.

If upgrading is to be institutionalized so that all are to receive benefit from such schemes in a reasonable timeframe, the most effective schemes have been sustainable, participatory, multi-sectoral schemes, based on affordable standards that achieve actual and visual impact. The “classic” typology for upgrading Windhoek now appears to be moving in the right direction.

4.4 Land

Unlike many countries facing the challenge of providing basic service and shelter needs for their residents with scant land resources, in Namibia land is generally not a constraint, even in urban areas. The most pressure is on Windhoek, which has a hilly periphery, but since the WCC owns much of the land, Windhoek is in a better position than many cities to service land and develop schemes for low-income households. However, the WCC is aware that land is a finite resource and thus schemes need to be planned with this in mind. In this regard it is developing innovative schemes that attempt to make more efficient use of land although they do not necessarily accord with national policy. For example, National Housing Policy stipulates a minimum erf (plot) size of 300 square meters, a prescriptive requirement with, it seems, little merit from technical, environmental and health viewpoints although perhaps with some social merit as poor households often house extended families. Whatever the merits of plot size, prescriptive requirements make provision of affordable solutions more difficult. To overcome this constraint Windhoek has provided 300 square meter serviced plots but has permitted two households to reside on one plot on a leasehold basis (i.e. one household buys and may also accommodate one lessee household). This provides owners with income, and households, unable to obtain a plot of their own, with a rental opportunity.

Although the City Council is the largest landowner in Windhoek, land needs are substantial, particularly for the urban poor. These needs may be looked at in terms of land required to meet the housing backlog and to deal with normal population growth (see Annex D for a discussion and quantification of land needs for the provision of plots for the urban poor in Windhoek).

Details of the currently proposed upgrading program in Windhoek are set out in Annex E. The total development requirement for the low-income group in the city for the next five years has been estimated at about 17,000 plots. This includes 8,000 existing informal plots that could be formalized. The provision of even 1,200 new housing plots per annum for the next five years will be extremely difficult to achieve and afford, particularly if the City is bound by central government prescriptive standards such as a minimum plot size. At the same time it is unlikely that the growth of informal settlements, in the absence of any formal, affordable housing solution, can be curtailed. Thus informal settlements starting with no more than a shack on a piece of land will continue to be the form of development for the urban poor for some time to come.

4.5 Principles and Guidelines for Upgrading

Upgrading has, and will continue to have, a major role to play in urban development. The principles for upgrading schemes, as laid down by the WCC include:

  • Services in all development options, especially lower levels, should be based on reasonable health standards.
  • All development levels should be technically appropriate.
  • Reasonable social acceptance and understanding of the development options should be ensured.
  • Community initiative should be encouraged for gradual improvement of own living conditions.
  • Such initiatives should be facilitated in an orderly manner and optimize financial and institutional resources.
  • Permanency and forms of ownership of land (security of tenure) should be promoted.
  • Financial risk for Council and its clients should be minimized in the development and upgrading of serviced land.
  • Costing, pricing and administrative systems for land sales and leases of each development level should be standardized yet flexible.
  • Resource use (natural, financial and human resources) should be optimized in the land development process.
  • All low-income land development should be aimed at financial, social and environmental sustainability.
  • The concepts of full cost recovery and “user pays” should be the underlying principles of any low-income land development project or program.

The WCC's Strategy document also sets out what are called “Guidelines for Upgrading” which are followed by “Guidelines for In-Situ Upgrading.” A number of innovative aspects are included in the main upgrading guidelines. First, an upgrading initiative would need to be demand driven, that is, instigated by a community request. The guidelines also permit upgrading of blocks as well as whole townships or communities. Also land sales for Development Levels 0-1 will only be considered on a block (not individual) basis, presumably for infrastructure scale, and hence, cost considerations. In addition all households requesting upgrading service must be current with any existing lease payments or erf loans and service accounts before an upgrading request will be considered. The Guidelines for Upgrading are comprehensive and clear on what can be done and what is required. One concern is that the Guidelines might be considered overly detailed and prescriptive and thus preclude many households from initiating a scheme on their own.

To date the city has provided very limited service options to poor clients, only communal and full services to erven for lease or sale. The City has decided that the low-income segment of the population now be categorized into various income sub-categories or groupings of ability to pay for serviced property in order to aid the Council in its objective of full cost recovery. In order to offer each of the income groups an affordable land and housing option, different packages of services or development levels have been formulated. The six development levels, the objectives, target groups, form of tenure/payment, and infrastructure standards are set out in Annex F.

Development Level 0 represents a situation where the Council has provided the most rudimentary services for survival, namely water stand pipes as an emergency arrangement. From Development Level 1, where real service provision commences, the extent of service provided increases up to Development Level 6. The Development and Upgrading Strategy document also sets out in great detail both general and specific guidelines for each type of service including:

  • Roads, Transportation and Earthworks
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Electricity
  • Refuse Removal
  • Community Development

The establishment of Development Levels (elsewhere, often called Level of Service or Service Levels) with differing infrastructure standards for each (for both budgeting and affordability reasons) is the usual and commonsense approach and one that is adopted in many countries. One further approach adopted in some countries is for the Levels of Service to be costed (on a per plot or per hectare basis) and thereafter to regularly update such costs. In Windhoek, costing is done on a scheme-by-scheme basis and the development levels costed, based on a sample of different designs, and then “workshopped” with a target community. The development levels and costs are explained to communities who may choose the option most appropriate in terms of their affordability and needs.

4.6 Community Participation

According to these new rules, in order for the City Council to embark on an in-situ upgrading scheme, it must have a “social compact” or agreement with the community regarding the extent and type of service to be installed or upgraded to that area and detailing the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders. For Development Levels 1-3 (communal service provision) a specific organizational structure is required, including forming neighborhood committees and drafting a standard constitution.

The role of NGOs in the community upgrading process is envisaged to encourage such involvement particularly in the following areas:

  • Provision of alternative energy sources
  • Training communities in skills such as building, plumbing, financial management
  • Promotion of savings schemes
  • Assistance with developmental aspects

NGOs can also provide guidance to communities and/or blocks in making applications to the Council for upgrading schemes in accordance with the guidelines.

4.7 Financial Aspects

The essence of the strategy is that the various development options will serve as a basis for determining standardized erf prices within each level for a specific period. The principle is that the service package offered within a certain development level be priced uniformly. These price categories will in turn be linked to affordability levels to quantify the demand for erf and housing needs in each development level. In cases where capital cost recovery would not be possible, the extent of subsidies from Government would have to be quantified to support an application to Government for a subsidy.

The section on Subsidy in the National Housing Policy states that “The Government intends to subsidize only those earners whose monthly family income is less than a pre-determined amount set by the Minister from time to time. This subsidy will be in the form of a one-time up-front cash payment to the local authority or developer on behalf of the purchaser upon sale of the plot of land with or without improvements.” It also states that “The irrecoverable capital costs of such projects (projects relating to upgrading of infrastructure) should therefore be paid directly from State Revenue in accordance with national priorities.”

It would appear that for in-situ upgrading (i.e. no sale or lease), under the first clause above, no subsidy would be available. Thus WCC would presumably hope to recover the costs of basic servicing (from central government) under the second clause relating to “irrecoverable costs.” This section of the strategy document states that after an initial approach to the Government, “guidelines will be set for the implementation of a subsidy scheme with accompanying guidelines which will take into account the negative affect of subsidization.” The document is also pragmatic stating that, as a decision from government on subsidy is likely to take some time then, in any event, Council should proceed to provide Development Level 1 services at its own costs.

The Local Authorities Act permits LAs to grant loans under established Housing Schemes and to assist Banks or Building Societies to grant loans. Whether the WCC should expand its role as a housing finance institution is debatable. Many would argue that it should focus on its core business of service provision and the creation of an enabling environment leaving banks and building societies to actually fund housing and associated services. More importantly, however, is whether the Council can actually afford to fund housing schemes and manage a large rental housing stock. This is discussed further in Section 7.0.

4.8 Overview of Implementation Arrangements

The proposals for implementing WCC’s strategy acknowledge the need for a multi-disciplinary approach and strengthened program co-ordination and project management. Originally, an interim Project Directorate was established. It was made up of planners and engineers with the mandate to ensure that all low-income land development projects were in line with the principles of the strategy. However, this has been disbanded and is to be replaced by a new Project Manager of Land Delivery who is to assume the functions of the previous Project Directorate.

It is clear that more work is required in developing workable implementation structures and arrangements that involve not only the relevant Council Departments but also the communities, NGOs and the private sector. International experience has shown that a clear understanding of “who is to do what by when” is key to the timely delivery of upgrading schemes/projects. The “Strategy Implementation” section of the Strategy document acknowledges that “further work is required on various aspects of implementation.”

4.9 Operation and Maintenance

Operation and maintenance focuses on a preventative approach, ensuring community ownership by involving communities in the maintenance of services installed and, where the Council maintains the service, costs to be recovered from monthly service tariffs. The arrangements appear to be equitable but international experience in the region suggests that although many places have such arrangements, often enshrined in local by-laws, maintenance is, nevertheless, often neglected both by community and the local authority. Maintenance, or the lack of it, is often the area that over time results in a poor assessment or evaluation of upgrading schemes. It is a very difficult area. Funding is usually a problem as is realization, on the part of communities (and government), of its benefits. Thus the costs of maintenance should be determined and schemes devised to educate communities and encourage good maintenance performance by them, as well to impose sanctions for poor maintenance. This is another area where NGOs might assist. It must be stressed that experience has shown that communities should not be asked to maintain infrastructure and facilities that are clearly beyond their expertise and resources to undertake.


Reception Areas, Windhoek (1991-1999)

Namibia’s National Housing Policy created the Reception Areas as temporary developments to accommodate people migrating to Windhoek. It was believed that once a new household had established an economic foothold in the city, it would move out of the Reception Area and acquire a fully serviced property elsewhere. Today approximately 3,000 poor households are accommodated in three Reception Areas (see table below).

Reception Area When developed No. of households resettled
Havana Section 1 1992-93 ± 200
Okuryangava Extension 6 1993-94 ± 2,000
4 Erf blocks in Goreangab 1997-98 ± 500
Total 1992-1999 ± 3,000

The provision of the Reception Areas was a top-down emergency initiative to respond to what was perceived as a temporary nuisance. Although it might have been a well-intentioned initiative at the time, given the approach and provision, it is not surprising that the schemes have turned out to be a major problem that needs to be addressed. The schemes were designed (albeit the layout and design was only basic) by city planners and engineers and implemented by them. There was little to no consultation with, or participation of, the beneficiaries during the planning process.

The occupiers are levied a monthly rental for the occupation of the plot in the Reception Areas. However, a very poor payment record of monthly accounts prevails. In March 1999, arrear figures of 90 days and longer for + 2,000 households in Okuryangava Extension 6 (Babylon and Kilimandjaro) stood at + NS 600,000. In the smaller Havana Section 1 reception area (200 households), March 1999 arrears figures of 90 days and older stood at + NS 170,000. The city’s Revenue Collection and Credit Control Section have started to exercise credit control measures in these areas. Positive methods of education, discussion and persuasion are being employed.

A percentage of households do have financial difficulties and have trouble paying monthly dues. However, a significant proportion of arrears are ascribed to negative social perceptions. Residents of the reception areas still perceive the areas as being temporary and insecure. Living densities on almost all the erven exceed 1 household/structure per 300 square meters. To date, the city has not allowed the erection of formal structures on any of the sites, as ownership of two households on a 300 square meter site is not possible owing to current density policies. Ownership of a plot, however, is said to be a major aspiration amongst the poor households in the Reception Areas.

Contrary to earlier views about Reception Areas being temporary, and that as people’s incomes improved they would move out, income levels in the Reception Areas have not risen as expected. The income information given elsewhere in this report substantiates this point. As a result, original households still occupy the Reception Areas, with little expectation for financial improvement in order to purchase land elsewhere. People are simply too poor to purchase fully serviced plots outside the Reception Areas.

Beyond the Reception Areas, spontaneous settlement has grown to significant proportions. Compared to the rapid influx of new migrants, the resettlement process to Okuryangava Extension 6 was cumbersome and time-consuming. A growing resistance to what was perceived to be forceful resettlement to reception areas started to emerge. As a result, informal settlers invaded the unserviced parts of the planned Okuryangava Extension 6 Reception Area long before the city could even service the land. Apart from the +2,000 households in the communally serviced parts of the township (Babylon and Kilimandjaro), another seven informal groups consisting of another +2,000 households currently reside within the township boundaries as well as at least double this number outside the township boundaries. These groups are only serviced by a few water points and have no sanitation services.

The three reception areas developed by the city over the past eight years have catered to approximately 3,000 poor informal households living in informal housing structures. Sadly, few of the people living in these developments have come even close to being able to own land in the city as was hoped; yet the areas are as informal and temporary as they were when they were conceived. The inability of the city to provide secure tenure options to the people has resulted in a growing sense of disillusionment and few incentives to meet monthly rentals.


As outlined in Section 5.0, much may be learned from the experience of Reception Areas. Lessons learned are outlined under the following headings:


  • People’s aspirations have to be recognized and thus their participation in the process of planning and implementing schemes directly affecting their everyday lives is critical;
  • Programs which are based on eventual resettlement are, understandably, unpopular and unsustainable;
  • The top-down setting of standards/service levels invariably means that provision of infrastructure and services is not affordable by the target beneficiaries. Such a practice usually means high standards for a few and no standards for most (i.e., the poor). Affordability also has to be a key consideration, as does the provision of functional standards. Great waste occurs in the provision of infrastructure and services that people do not really need;
  • Security of tenure appears to be a major requirement in the case of urban settlers in Namibia and thus has to be a key component of upgrading/housing programs.

With regard to the new Informal Settlement Program that attempts to take account of the above, it is too early to draw any lessons from implementation as it is just beginning.

Harmonization of National and Local Housing and Related Policies

Namibia’s main local authorities enjoy a good deal of autonomy. However, some innovative ideas for addressing rapid urban growth and the challenges it presents do not appear to be in total harmony with the National Housing Policy (e.g., minimum erf size). The good work and innovations proposed in Windhoek’s “Access to Land and Housing Policy,” “Development and Upgrading Strategy,” and related policies and resulting programs should be tested and not hampered by overly prescriptive national policies which cover some issues that would be better decided by local stakeholders, especially communities.

Erf Sizes, Densities and Costs

The Upgrading Program for Informal Settlements detailed in Annex E indicates that 33 groups or neighborhoods in areas covering approximately 290 ha accommodate some 32,700 people in approximately 8,000 households. The average gross density is thus approximately 113 persons per ha, a low density by most standards. More efficient use of land and development funds (for servicing) would be achieved with higher densities through, for example, smaller erf sizes and road reserves of lesser width. WCC has already acknowledged the need for erven of lesser size and it might also be prudent to look at other ways to achieve more efficient use of land and resources for servicing.

Upgrading and its Costs

Although WCC, quite properly, determined detailed costs on a scheme by scheme basis, it would be useful to determine the costs of upgrading from one development level to another for each of the main services. Adding this to the “Service Standards and Development Levels Matrix” so that early meaningful dialogue is possible with communities on trade–offs between development levels, costs and affordability would be very helpful to all stakeholders from the outset. This would also provide the means for early order of magnitude costing to assist budgeting and dialogue with potential donors.

Upgrading of “Blocks”

An interesting option proposed is the upgrading of blocks within settlements. This should be tried but it may be difficult to implement where network infrastructure is required. There are also questions that must be addressed, such as, who pays for infrastructure not required directly by the block but required for the block infrastructure to be able to operate (i.e., the upstream or downstream infrastructure)?

Leasing and Loans for Purchase

The concept of selling serviced erven (with the selling price covering the cost of servicing) is a “classic” upgrading typology and is to be encouraged. Similarly, arrangements to provide solutions (leasing) for those unable to purchase should also be encouraged. However, it is unclear in the policy and strategy document whether WCC intends to involve a financial intermediary (e.g., Building Society) to provide finance for purchase (and lease) or whether the Council is to provide such finance and is to continue with rental housing. International experience has shown that Local Authorities are not best suited to being housing finance institutions or landlords. If not already the case, WCC should consider asking the private financial sector to become involved in the financing of its upgrading initiatives.


The Access to Land and Housing Policy sets out in some detail the institutional framework and roles and responsibilities for housing and housing related activities. The principals, standards and the whole process for implementation have been very well detailed. What is now important is to actually test the process as quickly as possible, to learn and modify strategy elements if necessary based on implementation results. Thus the framework now has to move from the policy, strategy, concept and planning phases to the, perhaps more difficult, phase of implementation and identification of the required funding.


The strategy document explains that the Government is to be approached for subsidies for informal settlement upgrading in accordance with the National Housing Policy. However, it appears that this would only be payable if plots were sold or leased, and some capital costs might possibly be recovered. Funding upgrading schemes if no subsidies are forthcoming from central Government is a serious issue, as is the issue of subsidies providing a disincentive to people to help themselves.


Although the challenges are great, the city has a number of advantages which should assist it in facing the challenges:

  • Most vacant land is Council owned thus providing easier access to, and acquisition of, land.
  • WCC is the provider of most basic municipal services (e.g., roads, water, sewer, electricity distribution, refuse collection). This makes the development and implementation of integrated upgrading programs to appropriate and affordable standards easier than if a number of delivery agencies were involved.

The next steps in moving from the policy and strategy phases to the design and implementation phases of the selected schemes — and after resolving the overriding financial issues, highlighted above — would appear to be as follows:

Task 1
For the first informal settlement selected for upgrading (Havana Section 2- approximately 900 households) for which a feasibility study has been completed, the next step is to complete the design for which consultants have already been appointed. The consultants should take into account the lessons learned to date and the issues that have already been identified (outlined in Section 6.0 of this report) in the detailed design phase. On completion of the design process, contracts must be procured for the construction of works and implementation stage.

Task 2
For the next areas, namely Havana Sections 1 and 3, Okahandja Park A, B and C and Ongulumbashe 1 and 2, (approximately 1,600 households in total), complete the design, and follow a similar process as Havana Section 2.

Task 3
Complete design of two other settlements (Kilimanjaro and Babilon) that are to be upgraded, using largely community-driven techniques and self-help labor for implementation. This project will benefit some 1,400 households initially but may be extended to cover a total of about 15 zones/areas upgrading between 3,000-4,000 erven in total. The Spanish Development Cooperation is already supporting this.

Task 4
Assist the Twahangana Self-Help group to undertake its own upgrading of plots housing approximately 380 households in two settlements.

Task 5
Review current plans to resettle approximately 1,500 households on some eight different sites in Otjomuise Extensions.

The above initiatives together cover a significant number of the existing informal settlement areas in the City (approximately 8,000 households).

Other Towns
Ascertain the magnitude of the informal settlement and upgrading needs in Namibia’s other urban areas and learn from Windhoek’s experience. This may require, as a first step, the physical and social mapping of such areas to ascertain basic data in order to be able to develop appropriate local policies and strategies.

Annex A: Country and City - Basic Data

Ref Country-Ghana Data
1 Area 824,269 sq. kms.
2 Population 1,700,000 (1999) approx.
3 Urban Population 570,000 (33 percent) approx.
4 Urban Population Classified as Poor (food consumption rate >60 percent) 14 percent
5 Popn without safe water & sanitation Not available
6 Capital City Windhoek
7 Local Authorities (total) 120
8 - Municipalities 17
9 - Towns 14
10 GDP per capita US$2,000

1 Area 646 sq. kms.
2 Population 235,000
3 Population Living Below Poverty Line In 1995 approx. 70 percent lived below Primary H/H Subsistence Level of N$860 at the time.
4 Population without safe water and sanitation All but walking distances to collect water up to 200m. Approx.. 40 percent of informal settlers has no adequate sanitation.
5 Number of Informal Settlements 33 registered groups plus self-help groups, backyard shack dwellers living between Dev. Levels 1-3 in “new” resettlement areas.
6 Population/households in informal settlements (based on 2000 highest growth scenario projection) 57,000 people approx.. in approx.. 14,250 h/h based on high growth scenario. The current program aims to upgrade approx. 32,700 on about 8,000 plots.

Annex B: Bibliography

Ref Report/Doc. Title Author Date Content Summary
1 Public Participation Policy and Strategy for the City of Windhoek CoW   Contains Policy Statement; Concept of Community Participation; Objectives; Zones/Demarcations; Structures; Roles of Councilors; Activities; Council Resolution
2 Policy on the Allocation Principles to Prospective Tenants or Purchasers Wishing to Lease or Acquire Land in the Low Income Areas by Private Treaty CoW 1999 Contains Policy Objective; New Development Levels for Low and Ultra-Low Income Areas; Categories of Land
3 Report on Basis for Calculations of Rent in Low and Ultra Low Cost Areas CoW   Sets out charges for service provision, Assessment Rates; Administrative Levies; Capital and Interest payment requirements; Rent/Occupational Right levies
4 Erven: Policy on Determination of Prices CoW 1997 Contains policies pertaining to town planning and survey costs; administrative and legal costs; pre-financing costs water and sewer reticulation costs; electricity reticulation costs; streetlighting costs; road and street costs; escalation and over-expenditure.
5 Report on the Aftercare Function regarding Communal Toilets CoW 2000 Report to Council setting out Problems; Strategies; an Action Plan and Recommendations
6 Ultra Low Income Land Development in the City CoW 1999 Report supplies essential information about the poor in the city; population and growth trends; overview of initiatives; land needs and availability; income profile; development standards; subsidies and conclusions.
7 Development and Upgrading Strategy CoW 2000 Sets out Objectives, Principles; Service Levels; Guidelines for Upgrading; Guidelines for Selling Land and Assistance to Self-help Groups; Maintenance and Ownership; Community participation; Role of NGOs; Affordability; Subsidization; Allocation Principles; Housing; Planning for Sustainable Erf Delivery; Strategy Implementation
Ref Report/Doc. Title Author Date Content Summary
8 Implementation Strategy for the New Informal Settlements CoW 1996 Contains Problem Statement; Aim and Purpose of the Informal Settlement Program; Program Activities; Settlement and Resettlement Procedures; Incremental Construction/ Upgrading; Documentation; Human Resources Development of Dedicated Team; Time Frames
9 Policy 78 - Proposed New Guidelines for Development in Windhoek CoW 1995 Key document enabling upgrading of informal settlements: including community participation; accommodation of existing settlements; planning using aerial photographs; basic standards for health and environment; incremental upgrading; funding; tenure and ownership choice; economic opportunities and community based contracting
10 Access to Land and Housing Policy – City of Windhoek CoW 2000 Key policy document which details three policy foci namely community participation; reaching beneficiaries and securing land title and housing according to affordability and standards; affirming favorable access to land & housing on a sustainable basis.
11 Travel Demand and Traffic Impact Method of Recovering Cost for Urban Arterial Roads: New Method CoW   Somewhat complicated mathematical methodology for determining cost of access roads as part of the “Erf Price Policy.”
12 Service Standards for Development Levels 1-6 CoW   Sets out matrix showing for each of six development levels form of tenureship/payment and standards for roads, water, sanitation, electricity, refuse removal, community development, others.
13 Summary of Feasibility Study for Upgrading of Havana Extension 1 Urban Dy-namics 2000 Study for the first of the projects in the Informal Settlement Program. Study covers project rationale, site details, planning and design criteria, social compact, project implementation, financial sustainability, risks and problems, funding requirements
14 Windhoek Settlement Program 1992-1999 CoW 1999 Summary of the program prepared by the Chief Planner; Sustainable Development Division of Department of Planning, Urbanization and Environment of WCC

Annex C: Contact Information

Name Organization Position Address/Telephone
Martin Siphanga Windhoek City Council Chief Executive Officer Windhoek City Council
Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61
Kosmos Egumbo Windhoek City Council Head of Department of Planning, Urbanization and Environment Windhoek City Council
Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61
Trix van der Westhuizen Windhoek City Council Chief Planner
Sustainable Development Division: Department of Planning, Urbanization and Environment
Windhoek City Council
Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61 2902376
Fax: +264 61 2902006
E-mail: ttl@windhoekcc.org.na
Jana De Koch Windhoek City Council Housing and Properties Division: Department of Planning, Urbanization and Environment Windhoek City Council
Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61
Piet Du Pisani Windhoek City Council City Engineer Windhoek City Council
Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61

Annex D: Land Needs and Constraints

Reception Areas land
The City has accommodated two households per 300 square meters erf in each of the three existing reception areas in Windhoek. In one section of the Okuryangava Extension 6 reception area, however, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing accommodated + 12 households per 300 square meters (resettled from the Katutura Single Quarters). To achieve the two households per plot scenario, it is has been estimated that approximately 50 percent of households in the reception areas would have to be resettled to new land developments in order to enable the remaining 50 percent to acquire ownership of their 300 square meter sites (provided that income levels are adequate). In this case about 1,500 new sites must be developed for resettlement of households from these areas. Remaining plots are likely to require further upgrading in concert with acquisition or some other security of tenure.

Other Existing Informal Areas land
For other informal areas in Windhoek (all informal households residing outside the reception areas in the northern and north-western townships) there are + 8,000 existing informal households that require accommodation, for instance, through upgrading but with some resettlement.

Land for Normal Growth
For annual influx/growth the need for land due to annual influx is based on the fact that about 60 percent of the 7,000 approximately new annual migrants to Windhoek (approximately 4,200 persons) settle in the northern and northwestern townships. The percentage of migrants is considered to represent the annual growth of the poor sector. The Windhoek Residents Survey indicates that the average household size of the informal population is between three to four persons.

Thus assuming a conservative 3.5 persons per household, the City must develop 1,200 new sites per annum to supply the land needs of new migrant households (4,200 persons divided by 3.5). The inability of the City to supply land to accommodate the annual influx is visibly manifested by a recent land invasion in Havana Section 2. This is considered to be a clear signal that the City must expand its efforts to cope with the rate of urbanization, as well as the existing demand (backlog).

Total Land/Plots Need
Although the WCC currently working on the final figures, the approximate annual need for low-income sites in Windhoek for the next five years (assuming that new migrant families per annum are still 1,200, to be corroborated by the National Population Census in the year 2000/2001) is calculated as follows:

1999: 1,500 + 8,000 + 1,200 = 10,700 (current low income erf backlog)
2000-2004: 1,200 x 5 = 6,000
Total: 16,700 sites

Thus the total development requirements for the low-income group within the Windhoek Basin for the next five years (through 2004) would be roughly 17,000 sites. If the current backlog of 10,700 sites is to be addressed simultaneously with the annual growth in demand over the next five years, it would mean that until the year 2004 the City would have to consistently develop approximately 3,500 sites per annum for the ultra-low-income group. Within the above figures, however, are existing plots for which new land is not required but only the upgrading of services. A discussion on land availability and provision for the low income is set out in Annex E.

Land availability and provision of ultra-low-income erven in the Windhoek Basin
It should be realized that there are definite confines to urban expansion within the Windhoek Basin as it is hemmed in by bands of mountainous and hilly ground in all directions. This calls for the most frugal use of remaining developable land for residential and other urban purposes.

The WCC has tabled a plan that shows the existing built-up areas as well as the development potential of future areas of urban expansion within the Basin. Approximately 8,000ha of land within the Basin accommodates the current urban development of approximately 40,000 erven and approximately 227,000 persons. Another +/- 5000ha of land is still available for urban expansion within the Basin, which offers varying degrees of topographical suitability. Roughly 35,000-40,000 new erven may be created on the remaining 5,000ha provided that high density residential development be followed.

The Windhoek Structure Plan indicates that the Basin could accommodate about 400,000 people. On the basis of the population projections and the available 5,000ha for expansion, all the available land within the Basin could potentially be occupied within about11 years from now. The Windhoek Structure Plan anticipates, however, that re-development of under-utilized land and densification of low density residential areas could further contain urban growth within the Basin for the next 13 to 18 years.

The Windhoek Structure Plan predicts that expansion beyond the Windhoek Basin would spread northward towards Okahandja. This is motivated by the following factors:

  • Topography: The Windhoek-Okahandja Valley offers vast flatter areas for urban expansion;
  • The City’s major road and rail transport links to the coast run through Okahandja; and
  • The northern sources of water supply naturally tilt urban settlement expansion towards the north.

Furthermore it is predicted that, within 50 years from now, the developable valley between Windhoek and Okahandja will be filled with some 2.5 million people.

The greatest demand for any future development within the Windhoek Basin would come from the growing poor populations in the City. Based on the growth figures of the 1995 Windhoek Residents Survey, the conservative estimated low income residential erf need for the next 5 years is 1,200 new sites per annum (to be confirmed once the National Census figures are available in 2001). Though a figure of 1,200 sites per annum seems reasonable, the current low cost erf backlog in the City, which already stands at approximately 10,700 sites, has also to be addressed.

Of the 5,000ha still available in the Windhoek Basin, only approximately one fifth (1,000ha) is considered reasonably suitable for low cost settlement development (communally serviced land, no single erf service connections). Larger pockets of developable land found in the southwestern and southern parts of the Basin (Rocky Crest South, and beyond the Cimbebasia and Kleine Kuppe areas, with a potential of another 20,000 sites), are highly suitable for low-income development, from a topographical point of view. However, these areas have hitherto not been considered for low-income settlement with communal services, as they are situated on the recharge area of the Windhoek aquifer. The risk of groundwater pollution has been acknowledged by the Windhoek settlement leaders in 1996 and has led to their decision against settlement in these areas.

Roughly 12,000 low-income sites, 300 square meters in size, could be yielded on the 1,000ha land reasonably suitable for communal services development. The areas concerned are the Havana Township Extensions and Otjomuise (this is equal to the demand for land by the settlement sector by the year 2000. Depending on the speed of low income land delivery, and based on the annual growth in demand coupled with the current settlement erf backlog of 11,000 sites, these areas may be used up with five to seven years from now.

If, on the other hand, 200 square meter erven are to be developed, the same land could potentially yield 18,000 sites, equal to the demand for land by the year 2005. It can thus be argued that higher erf densities would ensure the containment of ultra low-income development within the Windhoek Basin over a longer period of time.

Well before the Otjomuise and Havana Areas are fully occupied by settlers, the City would have to decide to which areas ultra low-income settlement would be directed. The Windhoek Structure Plan proposes acquisition of portions of the farm Ongos, which shares the same drainage area of the Havana Extensions, within the next three years, followed by further expropriations of the same farm within seven years from now. A detailed study in this regard will be commissioned in the 1999/2000 financial year.

The costs of such land expropriation outside the Windhoek Basin, coupled with the grave social and economical impacts on the City’s poor, would have to be carefully weighed against the environmental risk of directing low income settlement southward onto the Windhoek aquifer and the financial requirements for subsidization of waterborne sanitation to each individual low income plot.

Annex E: Upgrading Programs and Projects

Annex F: Development Levels and Service Standards Matrix

Annex G

Windhoek City Council Upgrading Guidelines

In-situ Upgrading
In Windhoek City Council’s Development and Upgrading Strategy, “In-situ Upgrading” is defined as:

The upgrading of a community’s living conditions (such as installing additional services and subdivision for individual ownership) on the site where it is settled.

The Guidelines for “In-situ Upgrading” are as follows:

Where it has been determined that an informal settlement group will be assisted by Council by providing services in situ, the following will apply:

i) A feasibility study, inclusive of income analysis will be done before goal formulation of the upgrading project.

ii) The development level, which is affordable to the entire community, will be applicable, except where the following point applies.

iii) Development Level 1 will always be the minimum level, even where a segment of the group at hand cannot afford to pay for the costs of this level (please refer to the page referring to subsidies).

iv) Those households who are able to afford a higher income category will be encouraged to resettle to an area with a development level according to such income.

v) Guidelines on community participation will apply.

vi) Council will only provide an initial service level; thereafter the community has to initiate all upgrading efforts.

vii) Where Development Level 1 is supplied, the blocks to be subdivided will be limited in size (20 to 30 households as a guideline) to simplify future upgrading efforts by the community.

viii) Community involvement in the construction of additional services (upgrading program) will be encouraged as far as possible.

In Windhoek City Council’s Development and Upgrading Strategy “Upgrading” is defined as:

An action whereby an existing formal or informal settlement is regularized to provide a form of security of tenure or where new or additional municipal services are installed or a combination of these is pursued. An upgrading program may comprise of various combinations depending on the target community’s needs, priorities and affordability levels.

The Guidelines for “Upgrading” are as follows:

In cases where a township or block of individual erven is already within a certain development level, and that community approaches Council for additional services, the following apply:

i) In general, all development levels will cater for opportunity to install additional services, as the financial capability of a community improves.

ii) Council’s role in such initiative is to provide the initial development level according to income levels at that stage; potential future upgrading options are to be initiated by the community itself.

iii) Requests for upgrading will generally only be considered on a block or township basis, individual requests for upgrading will only be considered if the necessary infrastructure to that erf is already in place (refer to Development Level 3). The costs of individual connections will be borne by the applicant. The original erf loan may be extended to include these costs.

iv) Land Sales in Development Levels 0-1 (initially lease areas) will only be considered in cases where an entire block approaches Council with such application. Individual lessees wishing to purchase land would have to acquire land elsewhere in a different development level. Where the majority of the block wishes to purchase, with some members not interested in such transaction, negotiations will be entered into with that community for a feasible solution.

v) Land sales of individual erven in Development Level 2 (developed as individual lease erven) will only be considered under the following conditions:
-The prospective purchaser must be aware and agree that an individual sewer and water connection is not available to that property unless either:

  • All lessees in the block in question purchase their erven, in which case the required sewer and water reticulation may be installed and recovered from all the erven in that block or
  • The prospective purchaser is prepared to sponsor the costs of the necessary sewer and water line to that property.

-The prospective purchaser must make a suitable arrangement with his/her fellow lessee which is acceptable to all parties concerned, regarding that lessee’s future accommodation needs.
These conditions will be included in the contracts of purchasers of erven in Development Level 2.

vi) All households of the community requesting an upgrading of services must be fully up to date with all lease payments or erf loans and service accounts before an upgrading request will be considered.

vii) Upon receipt of an upgrading request, a comprehensive feasibility study of such request will be done, taking into cognizance factors such as the community’s willingness and ability to pay, various technical options and associated costs, social acceptance and environmental aspects.

viii) An application for upgrading of bulk and internal services to a community will not be approved if reasonable cost recovery is not expected. Approval and conditions of an upgrading request will depend on the outcome of its feasibility study.

ix) Community involvement in the construction of additional services (upgrading program) will be encouraged as far as possible.

x) In the case of a block of individual erven being upgrading, Council will install the service.

xi) Where the community owns a block or applies to purchase a block (without formal internal subdivision), the community would be expected to handle the upgrading procedure with planning and design assistance provided by Council (please refer to Guidelines on self-help groups).

xii) An upgrading request in a lease area without an application to purchase the land will not be considered. In cases where applicants request for upgrading without applying to purchase the land with due motivation for not purchasing such land, Council will consider such cases on individual merit.

xiii) All communities shall be made aware of the conditions for upgrading. This shall be done by means of including such conditions in sale and lease contracts and briefing communities on the issue as part of the education program.

Annex H: Summary of Upgrading Typologies (All countries in SSA)

Typology Description of Typology/Method/Approach Advantages/
Examples in following countries in SSA
1 Classic –
plots sold
Comprehensive, multi-sectoral, integrated with land title/plot title given and based on cost recovery with plots priced to cover capital cost of infrastructure provision calculate on a “saleable square meter basis and plots priced according to size. Plots become “legal” and ultimately contribute to costs for maintenance through formal local taxation system (e.g. property rates) Advantage
Sustainable (covers capital costs) and “legalizes” beneficiaries, bringing them into the city and into payment for O&M

Complex and time-consuming and expensive for low income and thus protection for “destitutes” required.

(Mbabane and Manzini)

2 Classic-
plots rented
Comprehensive, multi-sectoral, integrated with no land title/plot title given but a rental agreement and rentals based on partial capital cost recovery over time through rent Advantages
Legalizes beneficiaries and gives them some security. Provides a formal housing option for those unable to afford.

Long term financing required and housing management by LA of Housing Authority needed.

3 Integrated Infrastructure with cost recovery
Comprehensive, multi-sectoral, integrated but with tenure issues not addressed and with capital cost recovery via a betterment levy or similar payment for infrastructure provided. Advantages

Loses opportunity to give beneficiaries secure tenure.

4 Integrated
Infrastructure without cost recovery
Comprehensive, multi-sectoral, integrated but with tenure issues not addressed and without capital cost recovery thus a government-subsidized approach. Advantages
Comparatively quick and easy to implement.


5 Sectoral with cost recovery
Single sector (usually) but with tenure issues not addressed but capital costs recovered from beneficiaries direct. Advantages
Comparatively quick and easy to implement

Loses opportunity to give secure title, to create a visible impact thus encouraging people to maintain infrastructure provided. Can create and imbalance in infrastructure provision and create inefficiencies in future with piecemeal provision and disruption and waste.

6 Sectoral without cost recovery
Single sector (usually) but with tenure issues not addressed and without capital cost recovery thus a government/utility subsidized approach Advantages
An improvement in service level in sector(s) upgraded

As for above plus relies on subsidy.