The town of Ondangwa is located in the Oshana Region of northern Namibia, close to the Angolan border. It has a population of around 23,000 and the region has been experiencing a steady population growth in recent years.
Although the town is an important commercial and industrial centre in northern Namibia, the local population still lacks basic infrastructure and many public services. For example, there are not enough schools, which means that many children do not get an education. Many families in the rural north make a living from agriculture, but the harsh weather conditions create problems for people in securing income and food.
Since 2009, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ondangwa.
In recent years, rapid urbanization in Ondangwa has led to a lack of adequate housing. Hundreds of families live in so-called “kambashus”, iron shacks, build illegaly on private land. As a result, families can be forced to leave their homes at any time, making their livelihoods extremely insecure. In addition, the lack of running water or electricity endangers the health of many people. About 5 out of 10 people do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities, such as toilets. As a result diseases spread easily, which is especially dangerous for young children. When floods occur, these types of homes are often left severely damaged.
Floods in northern Namibia have become increasingly severe in recent years. They often damage buildings and roads, but also have a devastating impact on food production. Many people in the rural areas around Ondangwa rely on agriculture for income and to feed their families. However, recurring floods mean that crops are often destroyed and many people do not have enough to eat. This is especially dangerous for children as they cannot develop healthily. In fact, about 23% of Namibian children are too small for their age due to being undernourished.