Improving the living conditions of Namibia’s rural settlers

Namibia's Population Density (left) and Roadless Areas (right)

Seeking for employment and an improved quality of life, more and more people in Namibia are moving from rural to urban areas. Even though the capital Windhoek attracts the largest influx of rural migrants, the most densely populated areas are situated in the North of the country, where 40% of Namibia's population live on only 10.4% of the total land area (see left figure).

Despite a comparatively large share of bitumen roads (Norther regions: 30% bitumen, Namibia total: 15% bitumen) rural settlers regularly only have access to earth roads, which are often impassable during rainy season. Especially remote rural areas are scarcely developed with official road infrastructure, as illustrated by using GIS data of Roadless Initiative (see right figure). Since this is an obstacle for rural settlers to reach their workplaces or sell their products - large parts of the population are economically dependent on agriculture - the gap in living standards between urban und rural areas increases. This, in turn, is likely to accelerate urbanization.

The Master Plan for Sustainable Transport for Ohangwena, Omusatio, Oshana and Oshikoto Regions addresses this issue by making the intervention in remote areas a key objective. However, over the next years not only new roads will be built. Innovative public and non-motorized transport approaches will be introduced improving the accessibility of rural areas for all, in particular for those without own transport. Thereby, the Master Plan aims at reducing transport costs, improving access to jobs and services, creating more economic and social opportunities and above all: improving the quality of life of rural residents.