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child outside a tin house

Oniipa, Namibia, 1995

Categories: people, namibia

Because of the recent population boom, deforestation has limited the amount of available wood (mostly from omusati/mopane trees) for fencing and housing. As a result, a more Western style of housing has been adopted: rectangular houses made of metal or concrete, with wire mesh for fencing. These houses are hotter and costlier, but they are more permanent, they save wood, and their modernity makes them a status symbol. A volunteer teacher I knew lived in a traditional compound in a hut with walls made of cement interspersed with hundreds of empty dumpies (beer bottles) to act as tiny windows of light. Another volunteer helped to stock a dumpie library with books. Tin buildings are very commonly seen on roadsides, often serving as bottle stores (bars).

child outside a tin house, Oniipa, Namibia, 1995