N$1.5billion sanitation strategy on hold

June 8, 2015, 9:08am

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