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Proper sanitation needed by all

A make shift toilet facility at Havana which has to provide basic sanitation to more than five families. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

A make shift toilet facility at Havana which has to provide basic sanitation to more than five families. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

The need for potable water and basic sanitation services across the country was identified at Independence as one of the major basic essential needs of which the people, especially those living in communal areas, had been deprived. The water and sanitation situation 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.
The situation, which has become worse over the years, requires accelerated research and development of dry sanitation systems and affordable solutions for low income communities.
Most people residing in informal settlements still do not enjoy basic sanitation services.
Currently in its second year, the Namibia National Sanitation Strategic plan for the period 2010/11 to 2014/15 is a framework that outlines the approaches and activities that the sanitation sector intends to take in order to achieve sustainable success in the medium term. It provides an integrated roadmap of where the sanitation sector is going over the next five years. It also serve as a communication vehicle to reach residents of informal settlements. It was envisioned that by 2012, national sanitation coverage should reach 65%, urban coverage 92.6% and rural coverage 50%. However, these targets are yet to be achieved.
The vision of the sanitation sector as stated in the strategic plan is to provide a healthy environment and improved quality of life for 66% of the population by 2015. This implies adequate sanitation with a high level of hygiene. The 2007 Demographic and Health Survey indicates large differences in sanitation coverage across the different regions and although access to safe water for the rural population has increased from 43% in 1991 to 80% in 2001, sanitation coverage in rural areas has not progressed according to expectations. By 2009 only 13% of the rural population had access to improved sanitation with 61% of the urban population having access to improved sanitation.
People living in informal settlements such as Havana on the outskirts of Windhoek, use make-shift toilets made from plastic refuse bags and cardboard which according to the residents, pose a hazardous risk because anyone can use them. The residents are also concerned about their children  who are at risk of getting infected by the proliferation of bacteria in the toilets. The same abodes are   used as bathrooms.
Improving safe solid waste disposal and safe hygienic practices have a great health impact, therefore efficient utilisation of the water resources of the country and environmentally sustainable development of sanitation is a pivotal concept in the National Sanitation Strategic Plan.
In this policy framework it is recognised that sanitation brings additional benefits such as dignity, privacy and jobs are created by constructing latrines.
The budget to implement initiatives in the sanitation strategic plan is set at  N$1.579 billion over the five year period, with an average of N$316 million per year. The cost of the plan in 2010 was N$229 million and will increase to N$404 million in 2015.

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