18 Feb 2015 18:50pm
By Sawi Lutibezi
WINDHOEK, 18 FEB (NAMPA) - There is a need for Government to develop existing towns or create two more major towns to stop the migration of people to Windhoek.
Political Scientist Andre du Pisani was firm in his view during an interview with Nampa after the launch of the Afrobarometer Round 6 results last week, saying steps should be initiated for the creation of space for people where they can actually make livelihoods.
The Afrobarometer is an African-led, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in more than 30 African countries.
If we look at the trajectory of our demographics in terms of the rural and urban drifts of migration, you will see that we are 50 per cent urbanised and 50 per cent rural, he explained.
The demographics provided by the National Statistics Agency (NSA), he noted, tell that there is a need for a serious policy intervention as the country has reached a very critical balance.
Du Pisani stressed that the gap between Windhoek, Namibia's capital, and all other towns in terms of population is simply too big, adding that what happens now is that people actually come to the city where other towns cannot absorb them.
We need two other cities the size of 100 000 to 120 000 population each. The location of these cities would matter in terms of infrastructure, water and social services, which are the crises now because we do not have them, the professor suggested.
Government, he advised, could also look at developing existing towns such as Rundu, Oshakati, Ondangwa,Otjiwarongo and Swakopmund to a level where they can absorb and sustain their growing populations. It (government) could also look at ways how to integrate these towns into fairly sizeable sort of mega cities with low density.
If we do not do that, Windhoek will become a Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) or Luanda (Angola). We have a lot of circled informal settlements, thus Windhoek will later be completely dysfunctional and generate a lot of conflict and polarisation. It is too clogged and congested, the political scientist stated.
Most of the employment in rural areas is agricultural or dependent on agriculture, which often tends to be seasonal and therefore does not provide a constant income.
Du Pisani explained that for the poor people living in rural areas to overcome poverty, towns should provide economic opportunities throughout the year and not just in agricultural areas.
Create an assurance of lasting and steady jobs, gradation of skills as well as the creation of lasting assets in towns. Governments strategy and investment should be directed towards this goal, he highlighted.
The fast-paced urban population growth has caused great strain on the capacity of urban or municipal corporations to provide even the basic utilities like housing, water, electricity and sewerage.
Every year we have a crisis that the schools in the capital cannot absorb the learners. However, if we can create two other cities, we will be able to balance our national demographics, he added.
Du Pisani warned that if not given proper attention, this is bound to aggravate to unbearable levels and eventually give rise to the social and economic inequities besides urban decay and social unrest.