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Rapid urbanization and its influence on the growth of informal settlements in Windhoek, Namibia
Newaya, Tobias Pendapala
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The accelerated influx of migrants into Windhoek after the attainment of independence in 1990 caused progressive settlement growth on open council-owned land as well as considerable shelter and servicing problems for the Windhoek City Council (WCC). This study analyses the spatial growth of informal settlements in Windhoek over a 10 year period from 1998 to 2008. The study use GIS as a tool to measure and analyse the spatial growth and development of informal settlements. It involves the mapping exercise to generate a sequential process of assessing the feasibility study that helped in the selection of two detailed case studies. Results of the analysis show two patterns of informal settlement development: between 1998-2003 and 2003 to 2008. The first is the acceleration of development of shanty towns immediately after independence to 1988 as associated with processes of spatial consolidation and densification in the former period and increased sprawl in the latter period. Second the study analysed the socio-economic characteristics of informal settlements. This was complemented by livelihood assessment (LA) that was used in identifying the types of livelihoods and coping mechanisms used by residents of informal settlements. The livelihoods assessment clearly shows that most of the people in informal settlements rely heavily on informal sector activities for a living. In-depth interviews were conducted with selected households to explore their coping strategies and survival mechanisms and also to determine how their earnings are being distributed. The continued growth of squalid and unplanned informal settlements is a clear indication that policies and practices need further intervention and regularization. The establishment of reception areas between 1991 and 1999 proved futile. The reception areas attracted more people instead of controlling the growth. Pit latrine toilets are provided in all the settlements but people do not use them and this is a major human and environmental threat. The study shows that the population growth has a significant impact on the growth of informal settlements in Windhoek. The study also shows that the livelihood assessment of households assist with a better understanding of household’s coping mechanisms and this will assist the city Council in making informed decisions when addressing the needs of the people. Livelihood assessment is a tool that assists with the better understanding of the affordability levels of lowincome people, therefore assisting the city Council in providing services that align with the affordability levels of the residents.
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