Poor funding and policy implementation hamper water, sanitation

03 Feb 2016 16:10pm
WINDHOEK, 03 FEB (NAMPA) – A lack of sufficient funding and policy implementation capacity is hampering access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in Namibia, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa says.
He thus appealed to Government as well as development partners to seriously consider the need for continued support to address the water and sanitation issues in Namibia.
Mutorwa was speaking at the one-day ninth water and sanitation sector joint annual review meeting on Tuesday.
“Addressing this crisis is not just a matter of grave concern but it is a matter of moral imperative for the entire nation, because we need to access safe water and adequate sanitation to be provided without further delay.
“It is my hope that Treasury allocates fairly adequate resources towards this sector to avert a compromise on people’s lives as a result of diseases associated with inadequate clean water and sanitation, and polluted environments.”
While the Namibian target for drinking-water was met, the target for sanitation was missed dismally, according to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Namibia over the years made commendable achievements in the water sector where, according to the 2013 Namibia Demographic and Health Survey Report, over 87 per cent of the households in Namibia have access to improved water supply. However, only 34 per cent of the population have access to improved sanitation as indicated by the same survey report.
The problem of poor access to sanitation is particularly acute in rural areas, where only 17 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities with an alarming rate as high as 46.5 per cent of open defecation. Also equally affected are the informal settlements.
“The low access to improved sanitation constitutes a serious public-health problem,” according to Mutorwa.
He raised the concern that the sector review report makes it clear how the sector has underperformed. Progress has, however, been noted on policy reforms and implementation.
The sector remains guided by the Water Supply and Sanitation Policy of 2008 and National Water Policy White Paper of 2000. The new Water Resources Management Act of 2013 (No.11 of 2013) provides for the management, protection, development, use and conservation of water resources; to establish water management institutions, the Water Advisory Council, the Water Regulator and the Water Tribunal; and for incidental matters.
Mutorwa said the Directorate of Water Resources Management is in the process of finalising the regulations and legal instruments required to administer the new Act. Other policy instruments are also being worked on to include operationalisation of the ‘Subsidy Strategy for Water Supply to Poor Households’, Review of the Community Based Management Strategy; and continued implementation of the National Sanitation Strategy.
On the way forward, Mutorwa stated there is the need to establish a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework. The ministry through the Directorate for Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination, working in collaboration with the Water Supply and Sanitation Fora, is responsible to monitor sector performance.
However, this has not been adequately realised due to a number of factors including: non-reporting by sector ministries and other players, and the use of different indicators and information systems. This challenge is also partly rooted in inadequate participation by key sector partners in coordination meetings. This situation must improve and should be improved urgently,” he added.