Ndalimpinga Iita WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- As Namibia
battles with the Hepatitis E outbreak, hair traders operating in
Havana informal settlement in the capital Windhoek say the
outbreak is crippling their ventures.
Proceeds for hair salons in Havana
informal settlement, once frequented by clients from various
residential areas of the capital seeking bargain prices for a
glorious look have declined.
The Ministry of Health and Social
Services in November 2017 announced Hepatitis E outbreak, saying
it has started in Windhoek’s informal settlements, including
An estimated 110,000 people are living
in informal settlements in Windhoek. Of this number, close to
100,000 are living in Havana informal settlement, according to
Namibia Statistics Agency.
With the sun at its peak on Monday
morning, it is all hustle and bustle along the Monte Christo
main road in Havana informal settlement. Following an influx of
rural-urban migrants, the busy road has over the years become a
hub for diverse business such as car repairs, catering and salon
Here at a salon, Aina Keenda, 28, is
braiding a lady’s hair. With only a secondary school
certificate, salon trade has been the source of income over the
past three years for the woman who moved to the city from a
village in the northern part of Namibia.
Since the outbreak, according to her,
the number of clients frequenting the slum-based hair salon has
declined, citing fear of Hepatitis E infection.
“She might be my only client for
today. It has been like this for weeks now,” says a dismayed
“Since mid-January, proceeds have
declined by an average 850 Namibian Dollars (73.16 U.S.
dollars) monthly,” she says.
Business had been good but for the
Hepatitis E outbreak. According to Keenda, she used to have no
less than 15 clients in one week.
“But now, my clientele is limited to
people from the surroundings. During a good week, I serve an
average four to eight clients, reducing my monthly income to
1,750 Namibian dollars (150.13 U.S. dollars) monthly,” she
A stone’s throw away from Keenda’s
salon is the hair salon of 32-year-old Loide Shikongo, who is
going all out to attract customers.
“Sister, can I do your hair,” she
offers as she scouts for new business to passersby.
“Of late business has not been
promising due to Hepatitis E outbreak. So we scramble for
clients,” she says
In the wake of the outbreak, people
working in the informal economy are facing unpredictable
patterns of income, says Keenda.
The Namibia Labor Force Survey 2016
Report shows that 66.5 percent of the employed population are in
informal employments. “These comprised of 65.6 percent of males
and 67.5 percent of females. In addition, 57.3 percent of the
employed population in urban areas and 81.1 percent of
employments in rural areas were in informal employments,” reads
In addition, a report on migration by
the International Organization for Migration puts the number of
workers in Namibia in informal economy at 324,000.
According to the hairdressers, other
services offered such as sales of hair products have also been
affected. “Clients also used to buy items such as braids
directly from us. Since clients hardly come, we barely stock any
hair products to sell,” adds Shikongo.
To keep afloat, the hairdressers are
going extra miles to provide better services.
“I try and follow up with clients and
go and plait their hair from where they are. But even with
that; business is not easy to come by,” says Keenda.
“We also offer reduced prices to at
least earn some money rather than nothing. I have two
children to support,” says Shikongo.
Local constituency councillor, Martin
David says that dwellers’ operations have been affected by the
outbreak, most of which could have long-term negative effects
and may be crippling their livelihoods.
In the meantime, David says that the
Windhoek Municipality has rolled out cleaning campaigns to
eliminate Hepatitis E and plans are underway to supply
short-term and long-term solutions including sanitation
facilities in informal settlements.
During a clean-up campaign held over
the weekend, Mayor of Windhoek, Muesee Kazapua cited the spread
of Hepatitis E to vendors in informal settlements, who dispose
water in their space of trade.
In the interim, hairdressers, solely
dependent on hair business to make ends meet, say they are not
giving up and are hopeful for business prosperity.
“With the mass cleaning campaign and
education we hope the area be declared Hepatitis E free.
Then we can re-strategize how we can earn our clients back,”
So far, over 746 cases of hepatitis E
have been reported by the Ministry of Health and Social