AD209: Providing basic public services remains a challenge for Namibia’s government

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Ellison Tjirera

In its Harambee Prosperity Plan, the Namibian government echoes concerns about its ability to deliver high-quality services as “a prerequisite for rapid growth, job creation and poverty eradication” (Republic of Namibia, 2016, p. 19; City of Windhoek, 2017; Weber & Mendelsohn, 2017; Delgado, 2017). The plan calls for stronger performance management, including citizen satisfaction surveys. The first such survey, in 2017, found satisfaction levels averaging 54% across 19 public institutions, well below the 70% target (Immanuel, 2018).

Complementary data from a new Afrobarometer survey provide insights on the presence of needed infrastructure and citizens’ perceptions and experiences with regard to accessing four key public services – serviced land/housing, water/sanitation, health care, and electricity. 

The government receives a failing grade on the provision of serviced land and housing in urban areas. Citizen assessments are more favourable when it comes to health care, water/sanitation, and electricity. But many Namibians still lack access to basic service infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and challenges such as difficulty obtaining services, long wait times, and unreliable supply are common.

These results, while often complimentary of government efforts, suggest that providing basic services to most citizens will require a redoubling of efforts and resources to realize pledges made in national development plans.

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