N$1.5billion sanitation strategy on hold
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has been sitting on N$1.5b project financing meant to improve sanitation, sewer reticulation and portable water delivery The Villager understands.
The budget for National Sanitation Strategy expenditure is expected to conclude this year.
The Ministry’s Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination, Theopolina Nantanga told The Villager that the project (sanitation level) has not been able to get off the ground because they have faced challenges such as public education.
This project was supposed to alleviate the problem of open or public defecation, especially in rural areas, as well as build proper water systems in both rural and urban areas.
The Villager has established that the ministry has managed to set up water pipes to supply clean water to rural areas. However, sanitation infrastructure has not been set up yet.
The entire project cost was calculated at N$1 579 000 000 over a period of five years, with an average expenditure of N$316 million per annum for operational costs.
“People must understand that sanitation does not only mean building toilets. It involves a lot of stages, which also include educating the community on how to use the infrastructure and getting them involved in the process”, she noted.
Nantanga added that it does not benefit anyone to have infrastructure which will only last for a few years because people are unable to properly maintain it.
“Access to good sanitation means that the majority of the nation’s population will have improved health, which ultimately leads to a better economy. Essential water supply and sanitation services should become available to all Namibians, and should be acceptable and accessible at a cost which is affordable to the country as a whole. ” she said.
She further explained that the water and sanitation situation currently prevailing in the country is characterised by scarce water resources, poor access to running water in rural areas and a large percentage of the population living in vulnerable conditions in informal settlements.
All these require the acceleration of research and development of dry sanitation systems and affordable solutions for low-income populations in order to facilitate access to sanitation for all, and drastically reduce open defecation.
Nantanga said despite the delays, the strategy is still being implemented. However, she could not provide the amount the ministry will need to cover any additional costs.
Meanwhile, when contacted for comment on the matter, MAWF Minister John Mutorua could not shed any light on the delays, nor could he provide information on where the additional funds for the project would come from.
“I am currently sitting in a meeting in Ondangwa. Forward your questions to Nantanga, she is the right person to talk about the strategy, or contact our public relations’ office”, he stated.
The strategy was established by the MAWF to improve access to safe water for communities in rural and communal areas at the end of 2009.
According to the National Sanitation Strategic plan of 2010 to 2015, the need for potable water and basic sanitation services in Namibia was identified at independence in 1990 as one of the major basic essential needs which the nation, especially people living in communal areas, had been deprived of.
The plan further states that although access to safe water for the rural population had increased from 43% in 1991 to 80% in 2001, sanitation coverage in rural areas had not progressed according to expectations.
In 2009, only 13% of the rural population had access to improved sanitation, with 61% of the urban population having access to improved sanitation.
The first Water Supply and Sanitation Policy (WSASP) was adopted in 1993. The WASP allocated the rural sanitation function to the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS), with other stakeholders providing supplementary roles.
As required according to WASP, the Directorate of Rural Water Supply (DRWS) was established in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development to improve access to safe water for communities in rural, communal areas.
The establishment of the DRWS laid the foundation for the successful implementation of a dynamic strategy, known as the Community-Based Management (CBM) system. This strategy involved extensive user participation in water supply and management in the form of Water-Point Associations, their representative Water-Point Committees and Local Water Associations with Local Water-Point Committees.
The current Water Supply and Sanitation Policy (WSASP) of 2008 replaces the policy of 1993, which was based on this WSASP policy as well as the situational analysis conducted in early 2009. The situational analysis consisted of desk studies, extensive stakeholder consultations and site visits with key strategic issues, and is presented in a separate report.
According to the 2007 Demographic and Health survey, housing conditions in Namibia vary greatly, based on residence. More than three in four urban households have electricity, compared with only 15% of households in rural areas.
Almost 90% of households have access to an improved water source, and more than half have drinking water on their premises. Most urban households have water piped into their dwelling or yard (80%), while only 26% of rural households have directly- piped water.
Rural households also rely on public taps/standpipes (32%), tubewells/boreholes (17%) and surface water (11%) for their drinking water.
Overall, only 16% of households are more than 15 minutes from their drinking water supply. One-third of households nationwide have an improved (and not shared) toilet facility. More than three in four rural households have no toilet facility.
by Hileni Heita