Landless returnees in South Sudan benefit from UN-Habitat housing project
Juba 10 July 2014—Mr. Andrew Loggali is a very grateful man. After several years renting a house, he has achieved what is to almost all human beings a great dream- he is the proud owner of a home thanks to a project by UN-Habitat through funding from the Government of Japan.“I am very happy with this house of mine because it has been a long held dream. I really thank God for making this happen,” the father of six said at a meeting between UN-Habitat officials led by Human Settlements Officer Dragan Tatic and a section of the new tenants at the Durupi Settlement on the outskirts of the capital city, Juba.Loggali who comes across as deeply religious says that he made the decision to move from the Nesitu estate where he previously lived to Durupi although the new estate only has the most basic of infrastructure. “I came here with a part of my family and it is a good gesture so that other beneficiaries can follow my example. This would be an encouragement to our benefactors that they have done the right thing,” he said moments after leading both the opening and closing prayers at the meeting.Under the ‘Housing and Livelihood Support for Returnees in South Sudan’, the Government of Japan allocated USD 3.2 million for UN-Habitat to support returnee families in Juba (Central Equatoria State), Aweil (Northern Bahr el Ghazal State) and Wau (Western Bahr El Ghazal State) in provision of up to 600 houses and minimum urban services as well as re-establishing their livelihoods in places of their final return. In one part, the Project extends on the above mentioned initiative with slum upgrading in Juba. Under the project, UN-Habitat decided to move some of the residents of the Nesitu slum to Durupi. The allocation was done by using the balloting method so as to make the process as transparent as possible. Loggali was one of the first beneficiaries and the ranger with the South Sudan wildlife service’s biggest hope is that more of his countrymen would be as lucky. “We initially thought the number of those benefitting would be higher but as we already know [what is] involved our only wish would be for more funders to come on board so that many more people can benefit.” The sentiments are shared by another beneficiary Ms. Joy Amtai who is yet to move in but is optimistic that her turn would soon come. The mother of three can be said to be thrice as lucky since her sister and mother have also benefitted from the scheme. Despite the good reports, challenges still exist however. According to Loggali, the absence of other facilities like schools and better access to water is still discouraging others to move from Nesitu to Durupi.“Personally I am here with my two school going children and every day I have to use at least 10 to 12 South Sudanese Pounds (USD 2.2 to USD 2.6) as a bus fare to get them to school. If we were to have a school here I am sure many more would move here,” he says. Then there is the issue of water. According to Loggali, although the borehole currently in place can adequately serve the 50 or so families living there, this could be stretched if more families were to move in. Logalli said the delayed land demarcation at Nesitu was also to blame for the slow pace of uptake of the new houses adding that if the process was to be done faster the number of those moving in would be higher. On her part Ms. Amtai says lack of health facilities as well as the perception that the new estate could be insecure is also a factor making some people hesitant to move in. “It is only after demarcation that people can be allowed to move here and since the process is slow we expect the movement to be slow as well,” he said. “Women, especially expectant ones, need an assurance that they would have easy access to medical care which unfortunately is not the case right now. The roads are also not in a very good state making movement very difficult,” she said.In response, Mr. Tatic disclosed that because of the nature of the funding UN-Habitat’s hands were tied in as far as provision of other infrastructure was concerned. “The agreement was strictly for the provision of housing and we have to operate within those conditions,” he said. However, it is not all gloom and according to Mr. Tatic UN-Habitat was still looking all over for a partner who would be willing to fund this other component of the project.