Zambezi informal settlers drinking unsafe water

06 Aug 2016 11:00am
KATIMA MULILO, 06 AUG (NAMPA) – An acute shortage of clean drinking water at Macaravan east informal settlement in the Zambezi Region has left over 1 500 residents without any source of potable water.
The residents have resorted to drawing unpurified water from an underground drainpipe for drinking and other household needs.
The damaged drain is situated between the University of Namibia's Katima Mulilo campus, Katima Mulilo’s export processing zone (EPZ) industrial area and the informal settlement.
The poverty-stricken and unemployed residents have been using the unpurified water after the eight taps they had initially used were closed by the Katima Mulilo Town Council in April this year.
At the site, scores of people can be seen carrying water in large containers on their heads, while others opt to pay N.dollars 2 to have their 5 litre buckets of drain water transported in wheel burrows back to their shacks.
The water is dark and has an odour, but this does not stop the residents, especially women, from making use of it as they bathe their babies and do laundry at the site.
“Where do you expect us to get water to drink and bath? This drain has been our lifesaver. We are not sure how safe the water is to use, but drinking it alone has left many of us with diarrhoea. We cannot walk long distances to the river to draw water because it is far and we fear crocodile attacks,” said a woman who only identified herself as 'Namatama'.
Namatama, aged 32, said council officials have warned residents to stop collecting water from the drain and that they will be punished but those warnings were ignored as residents continue breaking locks and screws fixed to the drain for access to the water not fit for human consumption.
“Council closed our taps because they want us to vacate the area to make way for development. But we will not move until we are given an area to set up our houses, at a place with water and electricity,” she said.
Contacted for comment, Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu on Thursday said he was not aware of residents drinking water from drains. He said no reports of taps being closed have been submitted to his office for advice or scrutiny.
“I am not aware of such a case. I was not given such a report, nor reasons why running taps were closed. I refer you to seek answers with the Katima Mulilo mayor,” said Sampofu.
Attempts to get hold of Katima Mulilo Mayor, Georgina Mwiya-Simataa on Thursday proved futile as she was out of office and her mobile was switched off.