Namibia ranks high on the world’s economic disparity list, as the income gap between its richest residents and the nation’s poorest people is one of the largest on record. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is particularly evident on a visit to Swakopmund, where well-paved roads, modern streetlights and beautifully constructed colonial buildings sit next to quiet cafes and restaurants dishing up international cuisine. But just beyond the city limits lies an informal settlement called the Democratic Resettlement Community. Once a temporary holding ground for people awaiting government housing, some 6,000 people call the thriving DRC home, an area built from reclaimed trash discarded by the city’s rich.
Visitors to this impoverished but thriving neighborhood can see how the other half of Namibia’s city dwellers live—those who often work in the service industries that supply the country’s elite and international travelers with all the comforts of home. Tour the DRC’s active youth center, free health clinic and home for orphans and vulnerable children while wandering the streets of this informal settlement.
Locals refer to the nearby landfill as “the hardware store,” since most of the materials used for housing are unearthed here. DRC continues to grow as Namibians from other parts of the country migrate to Swakopmund in search of work and a better life, though employment can be difficult to find.