If you used any social platform this week, you should have heard about the heavy floods that swept the nation thanks to heavy rain. Although the rain is blessing for our very dry country, we should not forget the way they might have affected the livelihoods of unfortunate Namibians, especially during a pandemic.
Most of the country are happy that their prayers for heavy rain have finally been answered. But, be careful what you wish for. There are those who are currently being forced to deal with water damage to their houses and cars every rainy season.
Unfortunately, my family home was also one of the houses that fell victim to the heavy rain on Wednesday this week.
Speaking as someone who now has first-hand experience of coming home to a ruined, wet and messy home, I can attest that the inconvenience that comes with attempting to save one’s furniture and dealing with the financial burden of it. The situation is not fair, especially during a pandemic where the availability of money is completely scarce.
Imagine leaving your house to come home after a long day to find your furniture almost floating away in your living room. This is what I and many other Namibians had to experience on Wednesday.
When I returned home, the first thing I noticed as I walked into the yard was that the driveway was completely covered in thick mud. I walked into the house and just as expected, the house was filled with water all the way from the open plan kitchen, down the hallway right into my parents’ bedroom was covered in mud and water.
My parents, cousins, neighbours, and I spent approximately six hours cleaning the house and getting rid of all the water in every room and while attempting to save my cupboards and all the clothes on the bottom shelf. I started thinking about how this rain might put a financial strain on my parents and everyone else in a similar situation.
Think of it like this, to clean our home, we had to fill many buckets of water with cleaners to wash the floor twice, as well as do large quantities of laundry to try to save the clothes and other items that were ruined/dirty. This will spike the water bill. We may well have to do this again if it rains that way another time. My parents and a lot of other people are forced to end up paying more money to the municipality for a problem they might have played a hand in creating. Poor city planning, blocked drainage systems and irregular house building locations, add to this problem. Trees and brush needed to capture some of the flowing water have been removed.
Last year in June it was reported that the municipality would increase the water and electricity tariffs to purchase new vehicles. On top of that, due to the heavy rains and home floods, residents now must pay a higher price in water tariffs every month as they battle the water that comes inside of their homes.
Of course, moist, damp walls and saturated cement foundations due to the flood waters can lead to expensive damage in any home. Mold and fungus could be a problem if our house does not dry out fast enough. Water is a blessing, but too much, too fast is a dangerous and expensive thing.
It is not crazy or far-fetched to assume that some of people who are flood victims are often people who are already living in unfavourable conditions. These are people whose standard of living might have already been negatively affected by COVID-19.
While some people are enjoying the rain and it is calm vibes, people who might have lost their jobs during the start of the pandemic or unemployed people struggling to finds jobs are being forced to live under duress due to flooded homes. People have now lost everything and need to start from scratch on top of their other burdens.
Innocent families are being forced to pay for the mistakes that under-qualified city planners and building/road/drainage contractors who supervised (and earned profits on) building their houses made. It is the people, once again, who are forced to deal with poorly built homes.
One of the biggest lessons our country should take from these floods is that our house building market needs to be properly examined and inspected during construction. Political pressure to get homes built quickly or bribes paid to overlook substandard work must stop. We don’t just need homes, we need quality homes.
Nobody should dread the rainy season damage to their homes or be afraid to return home because of somebody else’s miscalculations and poor planning. The owners of these homes should not feel as though they are being punished for the mistakes of others. These are not just houses being damaged, they are HOMES being destroyed. We must do better.