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Living naturally in Namibia – a privilege for all

Living naturally in Namibia – a privilege for all

Worldwide, there is a movement back to nature: many are making a living from manufacturing and marketing so-called natural products: essential oils, organic foods, plastic-free household goods, upcycled this and that. Wonderful. Timely. And a sign of a collective reaction against all things unnatural. Our society is raising the stop sign, together with societies the world over.

Reaching back to nature and its familiarity is probably instinctive in man, especially in times of turmoil.

Who remembers the song “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” from the 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun? Annie sings to her heart’s content about doin’-a-what comes naturally with a naughty wink of the eye.

In Namibia, doing a-what comes naturally has meant an increase of just over one million people since 1990. Granted, that figure includes many returnees and immigrants. According to countryeconomy.com, in 1960 the population amounted to 634,142 individuals. By 1990 the figure had reached 1 345 000 and thirty-one years on, our population now stands at 2 459 000. Thankfully, the birth rate has been steadily declining – a blessing to our limited resources (1990: 37.8% vs. 2018:28.64%).

One million more people who need water, food and infrastructure. Most are concentrated in urban areas. A shocking headline recently stated “Windhoek littered with 40 tonnes of poo per day”. According to Stephanie French, the consulting adviser for sanitation at Development Workshop (DW) and quoted in the Namibian newspaper, only 12% of Namibians who live in informal settlements have access to toilet facilities while more than 80% practise open defecation “or are using the hillside, a plastic bag or the riverbed”. Shocking statistics on what is happening to our so-called green belt in Windhoek.

Although the dire need for infrastructure for housing and sanitation should spell prosperity for the construction industry, none of us have forgotten the slump that started in 2016 and was dealt an extra blow by Covid-19. The government and the local authorities are in the worst place ever.

Let us not despair, there is hope: Namibia still offers Lebensraum and the joy of living in nature. Developments such as Finkenstein, Ongos Valley and Osona Village offer the feel of the veld. Children can play barefoot among the thorns and learn that life is not always easy. They can hear the call of birds and learn that life is beautiful. Similarly, they can panic during a drought or veld fire and learn how small and feeble mankind really is.

Our nature is our competitive advantage. Future developers will also, like those of the past, cleverly intertwine infrastructure with open spaces – those spaces that bring pride and joy to every Namibian heart.

Christine Stoman

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