by Roxane Bayer

RESIDENTS of Windhoek’s informal settlements are worried about the effect the outbreak of Covid-19 will have on not only their health, but also their finances and businesses.

Hilaria Kafita, who runs a salon in Otjomuise, says her business has declined ever since the first case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Namibia. Photo: Henry van Rooi

Hilaria Kafita, who runs a hair salon in Otjomuise, said she is worried about the virus and the financial impact it will have on her and her family.

She said business had declined ever since the first case of the Romanian couple from Spain who tested positive for Covid-19.

Kafita also added that people living in the informal settlements are not properly informed on the virus, as most information comes from hearsay.

“Not all of us have access to the internet or TV, or electricity for that matter,” said Kafita.

Another resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she is worried as she doesn’t understand how she is expected to wash her hands when she has no running water.

She told The Namibian that the tap she uses to get water is used by the community at large, and the hygienic conditions there are poor.

Windhoek mayor, Fransina Kahungu, said the municipality will scale up the provision of water in informal settlements, including the placement of water tanks at strategic places.

The resident’s biggest worry, however, is that she cannot work during this time.

“We are not working and I need to pay bills,” said the resident who usually works from Monday to Saturday.

“People are scared of us because we live in shacks, but we are not the ones flying around,” said the resident, referring to her employers who asked her to leave following the outbreak of Covid-19.

An Otjomuise salon owner, Magano Shikoto, said while she gets information on the virus from social media, her business has slowed down.

At home Shikoto makes sure her family washes hands before eating, and take a bath before getting into bed. She believes that by enforcing these measures, she can protect her family.

Chantelle Huises, another resident in the informal settlement, said she is not worried as her faith is strong. She has taught her daughter, and those of family and friends, what to do as their safety is her biggest concern.

Huises, whose boyfriend works at Windhoek Central Hospital, makes sure to keep the children out of the street.

Two residents living in the Havana informal settlement told The Namibian that they need water and that no one has offered them help.

“There is one tap that everyone uses, and there is only one pipe that we use to fill our containers, everyone touches that same pipe,” said one resident, adding that that spreads germs easily.

He added that, although there is a lack of sanitation facilities, he believes the virus can easily be stopped.

Another resident of Havana, Abner Mbango, said he believes residents in the informal settlements are not taking the virus seriously, as they do not have the necessary information.

He added that residents have not seen any measures being taken around them, so they do not believe in the severity of the virus.
Ndeshi Heita, who owns a shebeen and take-away shop, added that business has been down since last week.

“It puts us in big problems,” said Heita, adding that she needs to send money to her parents in the north of the country.

Despite her financial worries, Heita, who offers her customers hand sanitiser, said she will do what is required of her to keep everyone safe, including closing her business.

“Staying open is not important. Thinking about your business and not your life is not good,” she said.

Another business owner operating a few shops from Heita, Victoria Shikongo, said her business is also slowing down.

“I feel like closing,” said Shikongo, whose source of information is what she hears from friends.

She added that closing her business might be best for her finances, explaining that any new stock she might buy, will only go bad as there are no customers.

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