Water and sanitation shift focus to informal and rural
Only 34% of the population has access to improved sanitation but this is set to change, following a change in policy direction that will see the emphasis on the provision of potable water and proper sanitation, shift to informal and rural settlements.
At the 9th Water and Sanitation Sector joint annual review by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the EU as development partner, it was stated that Namibia has met the target for safe drinking water however the target for sanitation was missed dismally.
A statement prepared by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Hon John Mutorwa, read by his deputy Anna Shiweda, reported that ‘the fundamental challenge lies with the lack of progress on sanitation with only 34% of the population having access to improved sanitation as indicated by the Namibia Demographic and Health Survey of 2013.”
The survey indicates that the victims of inadequate sanitation are primarily the poor in rural areas where only 17% have access to sanitation facilities with an alarming rate of 46.5% having to rely on open defecation. The Deputy Minister also elaborated on the rapid increase in rural urban migration adding to the low access of sanitation in informal settlements saying that solutions are needed to cope with such challenges.
“With regard to progress made, performance can be noted in policy reforms and implementation as the sector has developed a new Water Resources Management Act (2013) which deals with the efficiency of the management, protection and conservative use of water resources. Other notable policy instruments include the ‘Subsidy for Water Supply to Poor households.’
The Namibia Demographic and Health Survey Report stated that over 87% of households have access to improved water supply, the Deputy Minister pointed out.
Other notable water actions include the construction of the Neckteral Dam, the construction of the Divundu pipeline and the implementation of four projects such as the Katima Mulilo Kongola pipeline and water treatment plant and the extension of the Ondangwa Omuntele pipeline.
However Deputy Minister Shiweda stressed that water scarcity remains a constant threat to Namibia, naming such challenges as a lack of comprehensive monitoring and evaluation due to non-reporting by ministries, the use of different information systems, and a lack of appropriate tariffs to meet operational and maintenance costs.
She enunciated that access to clean water and sanitation not only remains a basic need for development but is synonymous with human dignity, urging the government and all stakeholders to participate in the improvement of water and sanitation.