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EU launches water project in Keetmanshoop

The EU Delegation to Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the Keetmanshoop Municipality and the Kangasala Municipality of Finland this week launched a N$3.5 million water project in Keetmanshoop.
The aim of the project is to reduce the volume of water lost through leakages in the water supply system of the town, and to improve the operation and management of the system through improved staff competence.
Speaking at the launch in Keetmanshoop on Wednesday, Ambassador Raúl Milani, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Namibia said since independence, there has been an impressive progress in the water sector in the country. Access to safe water for the rural population has increased from 43% in 1991 to 83% in 2012. However, he bemoaned the fact that almost 20% of the rural population is still without safe drinking water.
He said the protection and a more conscious utilisation of water resources are crucial for Namibia to preserve a sustainable environment and livelihood for its people as the country is one of the most arid countries in the world.
“Although effects of climate change are not exactly known for Namibia, it will most likely lead to more pronounced periods of droughts and on the other hand to periods of more excessive rainfall,” he said.
According to Milani, the situation in Keetmanshoop is similar to that of the Emfuleni municipality in Gauteng province which, through a water loss reduction scheme, has managed to achieve savings of up to N$30 million a year, with an investment of N$10 million in a pressure station.
“The concept is a simple one – by reducing the pressure, less water leaks out of broken and old pipes. The reduction of water pressure has led to average water saving of 20% of the total water supplied to the area. Annual savings from the project are in turn being ploughed back to upgrade old infrastructure.
Having to buy water from the bulk supplier NamWater, Milani said the municipality has every interest to reduce the current level of unaccounted-for-water from 37% to less than 20% at the end of 2014.
The project, building upon a cooperation between Finnish municipalities and universities and the municipality of Keetmanshoop with the Polytechnic, is the first of its kind in Namibia aiming to improve efficiency of water distribution in a town.
If successful, the project is expected to be a pilot for many other urban areas in Namibia.
This project is one of many funded worldwide by the EU-ACP Water Facility. The European Commission created the first Water Facility in 2004 under the 9th European Development Fund, whereby nearly €500 million was used to co-finance 175 projects in various ACP countries.
The overall objective of the Water Facility, within the framework of the EU Water initiative, is to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development by helping to achieve the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals.
The aim in 2000 was to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, all key prerequisites for reducing child and maternal mortality and for combating diseases.

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