By Kuvee Kangueehi Katima Mulilo The Namibian government last Friday moved a step closer towards providing safe drinking water to all its citizens when President Hifikepunye Pohamba officially inaugurated the 87-km Katima Mulilo-Linyanti water pipeline. Officiating at the occasion, Pohamba said the pipeline is in line with the Swapo government’s policies and initiatives aimed at bringing public services closer to the people. “This occasion symbolizes our government’s commitment of ensuring that all people enjoy easy access to safe drinking water,” he said at the event. Pohamba, who was in the Caprivi Region for five days, noted that the provision of safe drinking water to the rural population remains one of the highest priorities of his government. He said since independence his government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has undertaken a comprehensive and sustained programme of expanding water infrastructure facilities to different parts of the country, especially rural areas which were criminally neglected by the apartheid colonial administration before independence. “Namibia is considered to be the most arid country in Southern Africa, where water is scarce for both human beings and livestock and therefore the government has placed considerable emphasis on enhancing the availability of water for household use and agriculture.” The President also mapped out his government’s plans to improve the water supply services to the rural population and said over 75% already now has access to safe water. “The target is 80% in 2006, 85% by 2010, 90% by 2015 and 95% by 2020 to cover 100% of the rural population by 2030.” He said that the government has also drilled boreholes, created fixed water points, constructed hundreds of kilometers of water pipelines and set up NamWater to attend to the country’s needs of bulk water supply. More than 75% of Namibians have access to improved safe drinking water supply in rural areas compared to 50% in 1990. “Our priorities in the next five years shall be the development of better infrastructure such as water, housing and electricity, especially in the rural areas and efforts shall be made to create economic activities and attract investment to towns, villages and settlements in order to create employment opportunities and maintain economic growth sustainability.” Shedding more light on the Katima Mulilo-Linyanti water pipeline he noted that it was constructed in line with the Water Sanitation Sector Policy of the government. He said the implementation strategy of the policy is known as Community Based Management of Rural Water Supply and requires that rural communities be involved in planning, implementation, maintenance and operation of their water supply systems. The water pipeline was constructed in four phases of which phase 1 started in April 2003 and was completed in July 2006 under phase 4. The water pipeline is expected to initially serve about 16 000 people. “It is also pleasing to note that 15 schools, four clinics, thirteen livestock points and forty domestic water points are provided along the route of the pipeline.” At the same occasion the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Paul Smit said that the government and foreign donors have to spend a lot of money on ensuring safe water supply. Smit said Germany has provided more than N$20 million. Several Cabinet ministers, the Caprivi Regional Governor Bernard Sibalatani and Katima Mulilo Mayor John Likando also attended the occasion.
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