05 Jul 2013 07:40
WINDHOEK, 05 JUL (NAMPA) - The Minister of Defence Nahas Angula on Thursday called on the Agriculture, Water and Forestry Ministry to encourage people living in rural areas to see water as a health need.
The minister was contributing to a debate on the Water Bill, tabled by Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa in the National Assembly.
?Government has invested a lot in rural water supply and despite that, many of the water points are not working. They are closed because villagers do not want to invest in water,? Angula said.
He stressed that perhaps villages do not want to pay for water, adding that traditionally, water is a commodity which was never sold.
?If you dig a well and you find water, you cannot refuse somebody water from that well. Villagers just don?t want to make a contribution to pay for water when the contribution is only something like N.dollars 20,? the defence minister said.
?Some people have resorted to digging wells and drinking dirty water. The same water is also given to children, and as a result you have children suffering from diarrhea and lives are lost,? he added.
Angula noted that there is a need for social mobilisation, saying water extension workers should go out to rural areas and inform them that Government has provided them with clean water, thus they should avoid using dirty water.
?Government is even giving you a social pension every month. Why don?t you spend part of that pension to access clean water in order to save the lives of your children and that of your grandchildren,? he suggested.
Reading through the Bill, Angula said it also provides for the creation of water committees, but stated that these people work with difficulty as at times they are insulted by villagers who do not want to pay.
Other times they have to beg villagers to pay for water in order for the water points to remain open.
?I am not quite sure what should be done to educate our people that water is part of our health needs, and clean water is being provided for that reason,? Angula said.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Heiko Lucks also contributed to the debate, saying the Bill states that the minister responsible for water must ensure that all Namibians have access to water.
In situations where water is cut off in towns, Lucks wanted to know if the provision will make the minister legally bound to interfere in cases where NamWater cuts off the water supply because of non-payment.
On his part, Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana wanted to know the response of the Agriculture, Water and Forestry Ministry to reports of large volumes of underground water found in the Oshana and the Ohangwena regions.
Kawana argued that the water should be used to develop the agriculture sector in the Mangetti area of the Oshikoto Region to ensure food security and job creation.