Pupils Boycott Classes Because of No Water

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By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO Learners at Orumana Combined School, some 30 kilometres south of Opuwo, have been boycotting classes since Tuesday this week following a breakdown of the generator cylinder that channels water to the borehole, resulting in the non-availability of water for two weeks now. It is not just the school that is affected but also the entire Orumana community that heavily relies on it for water. The school has been without its own independent water source for 10 years now, according to reliable sources, after its own water source – a generator-powered borehol – ran dry, a common phenomenon in this part of the country. As an interim measure, according to the school principal, Markus Munenge, the school has been using its development fund to pay private cars to supply water for cooking from the nearest clean water points from the school, among them Omutumbirua village, which is seven kilometres from the school. “This is not a solution, but that is how it has been for the past days because the only ministerial truck we have was – and still is – difficult to get, given the fact that we only have one driver of this truck who is also tasked with similar responsibilities in other villages,” the principal pointed out. He added that the truck can only deliver twice in one day because of the labour and distance involved. Besides, it is still very little to supply the entire school population of about 535 and, as a result, the water can only be used for cooking purposes, forcing learners to wash and even drink from the unhygienic water point near the school – an artificial earth dam. “We want a permanent solution to this water crisis,” he stressed. Munenge disclosed that because the problem has been going on for years now, the school deemed it vital to have its own independent permanent water source instead of sharing with the community, citing maintenance and diesel expenses as major factors to change. “A feasibility study to build a permanent reliable water source for the school was completed last year by NamWater to the tune of N$5,5-million for the development of a reliable permanent water project. The amount includes drilling and all other infrastructures,” said Munenge. He lamented the fact that, after the completion of the feasibility study, his office – through the office of the regional director, Kamwi Kabajani – wrote to the permanent secretary late last year to inform him about the project for possible funding but, until now, there has been no response. “NamWater is ready; they can even start to construct today if they get this N$5,5 million,” the head teacher noted. “On the side of cooking, it is a little bit fine but it is only on the other side of bathing and drinking where the problem lies. We need serious intervention from government and other stakeholders,” said Murenga Hinambangi, a Grade 9 learner at the school. “I am also affected, but I feel much pity for my co-learners because over the weekend it was terrible to the extent where there was no water for cooking, resulting in them only having two slices of bread each. The water in the dam that some of them are washing in, and even drinking, is very dirty because it is the same water that pigs, goats and cattle are drinking,” said Mercy Ruhuna, a teacher at the affected school. The school has a population of 489 learners housed in the hostels. Some learners have already started flocking to their villages, as it is still not clear when a solution will be found. It is also unclear how long the boycott is likely to continue, but the school principal and members of the school are scheduled to undertake a trip to Windhoek to meet the Permanent Secretary and other officials face to face to raise their concerns.