French Give N$365 000 for Toilets

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Donations aimed at helping thousands of Namibians who were severely affected by floods in most northern parts of the country continue to pour in. On Friday, the French government donated N$365ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 to the Namibia Red Cross Society to be channelled towards the construction of toilets. Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, received the donation. Lack of toilet facilities in the north is of concern to health officials especially after the regions this year reported cholera and acute diarrhoea outbreaks. French Ambassador to Namibia, Philippe BossiÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¨re, says the donation is in response to President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s emergency call to the international community earlier this year to assist flood-hit regions in the recovery period. “Answering to the emergency call of His Excellency President Pohamba after the floods in the north of Namibia, the French government has decided to provide 30ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 euros (N$365ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000) to the Namibian Red Cross Society,” he said. The funds will be used to specifically improve the sanitation in Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana with 164 households earmarked to benefit. In Ohangwena, the 2001 census report shows that 89 percent of the people have no proper toilet facilities while in Omusati, 83 percent face the same predicament. “The main objectives will be to reduce health risks, morbidity and mortality for the affected population through the improvement of sanitation to 164 households. The risk of waterborne and water related diseases shall be reduced through the provision of adequate sanitation,” the French Embassy said. The Red Cross together with the Ministry of Health and Social Services will construct the toilets in the areas affected by the floods. In the aftermath of floods, sanitation has remained a worry to most health experts with fears that poor hygiene is likely to compromise efforts to curb diseases such as cholera. This year only, cholera has killed 37 people. Flood Emergency Coordinator, Erastus Negonga, yesterday told New Era that sanitation is a major challenge with 75 percent of the people in the areas that were affected by floods using the bush to relieve themselves. “Thus any generous contribution to that regard will address the problem of sanitation and generally, development in the country,” said Negonga. Regional Health Director for the Ohangwena region, Dr Naftali Hamata, says drastic measures are needed to address sanitation, otherwise the affected areas should be prepared to have cholera cases every rainy season. “Sanitation and clean water remain some of the challenges in the regions. The majority of people do not have access to latrines, a good place for cholera to spread,” the doctor said. He warned: “If no drastic measures are taken, it will be difficult to control the disease. My fear is we will have cholera year in and year out.” In the short term, Hamata suggests that by the next rainy season Government together with stakeholders should ensure that water purification sachets are distributed in advance for people to drink purified water. He added, “We should also educate people in building pit latrines together with the help of health directors.” Regional councillors are also urged to mobilise resources and ensure that their people build toilet facilities. Meanwhile, Negonga said yesterday that a technical team comprising of experts in the ministries of Works and Transport, Lands and Resettlement, and Agriculture, Water and Forestry are conducting assessments specifically to find out intervention measures that can be carried out in various areas of need. He added that the team is at its final stage and will soon submit the report to Negonga as the Flood Emergency Coordinator. Negonga will submit it to Cabinet.