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1. Introduction The population of Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek, has been growing at an annual rate of 5.4 per cent in recent years, the largest annual growth rate in its history. The 2001 population of Windhoek was about 224 000, which represents almost half of all urban residents in the country (Municipality of Windhoek, 2001). While not unique to Namibia, rapid urbanisation in the context of slow economic growth makes it difficult for urban managers to cater adequately for a growing population’s economic and infrastructure needs. It is within this context that this research considers the welfare of relatively poor migrants to Windhoek and how they survive under difficult conditions. Most of the population growth is taking place in Katutura, a large area to the northwest of the city, previously designated an African township, where about 60 per cent of the city’s population live on about 20 per cent of its land (Pendleton, 1998). It is estimated that the population of Windhoek will double between 2000 and 2015 as a result of both natural population growth and rural–urban migration (Municipality of Windhoek, 1996b: Vol. 1: 20; Frayne & Pendleton, 2001, 2003). Of total migration to the city between 1990 and 2000, more than two-thirds has been to Katutura (Municipality of Windhoek, 2001, Vol. 1: 62). Moreover, some 67 per cent of migrants in the sample in this study had moved to Windhoek since Independence in 1990, with 42 per cent having arrived in the period 1996–2000. The majority were born in the rural north of Namibia, with 79 per cent of the first-generation MIGRATION AND THE CHANGING SOCIAL ECONOMY OF WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA BRUCE FRAYNE 6 Chapter|98| migrants in the sample coming from the central rural north (Oshiwambo-speaking regions), which is more than double the percentage of non-migrants with the same mother tongue. Windhoek is by no means an exception, as urbanisation and increasingly complex forms of mobility are on the rise throughout southern and eastern Africa. This chapter is based on a study conducted by the author in Katutura and rural districts of Namibia in 2000 (Frayne, 2001). The study is important for understanding the changing social economy of Namibia, and the findings resonate with the challenges urban managers face within the region. It has been argued elsewhere that prior to Namibian independence in 1990 both stabilised residents and contract migrants faced enormous economic pressures (Frayne, 2001). Recent studies show that the contemporary situation for urban residents is not much improved (Simon, 1991; Pendleton, 1991, 1996, 1998; Pomuti & Tvedten, 1998; Peyroux & Graefe, 1995; Frayne & Pendleton, 2001). Although employment opportunities have broadened with independence, the sheer volume of urban growth appears to negate the potential benefits for the urban poor (Pendleton, 1998: 72; Hansohm, 2000). A survey undertaken in the informal areas of the city reported an unemployment rate of 46 per cent amongst household heads (Peyroux & Graefe, 1995). The growth in the informal economy is largely in response to the real constraints on employment in the formal sector (Norval & Namoya, 1992; Pendleton, 1996). This tension between migration, urbanisation and urban poverty has been variously described as an ‘urban crisis’ and conceptualised as a transfer of rural poverty to the urban context (Pile, et al., 1999: 1; Pomuti & Tvedten, 1998; Tvedten & Nangulah, 1999). Moreover, vulnerability and deprivation are increasingly viewed as an urban problem, which is more severe than the situation in the rural areas (Pomuti & Tvedten, 1998: 122). Devereux et al. (1995: 41) make the following observations with regard to urban poverty: Competition for employment is fierce, wages are low, and many [unskilled shanty dwellers] are forced to eke out a subsistence in the urban informal sector. The informal sector itself is underdeveloped, with an overemphasis on petty-commodity trading, which, in many quarters, has reached saturation point. Urban poverty is thus a growing phenomenon in Namibia and the situation is likely to deteriorate further if employment opportunities are not created in both rural and urban areas. At face value, this line of argument appears to be supported generally by the data. For example , in 1991, some 67 per cent of migrants reported the lack of employment as a ‘serious problem’ they faced in Windhoek (Pendleton, 1991). In the same survey, 70 per cent of the sample reported food shortages as a ‘serious problem.’ However, although consistently high unemployment rates are reported amongst households in Katutura, and migrants face the highest levels of unemployment in the city (Municipality of Windhoek...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781920409364
Related ISBN
9781920409098
MARC Record
OCLC
748598885
Pages
252
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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