Water, Sanitation Policy Reviewed

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

More than US$350 million will be needed for Namibia to attain Vision 2030’s long-term targets for sanitation services and improved water supply.

According to 2001 statistics, 78 percent of rural folk still answer to nature’s call in the bush. Only 12 percent have access to proper toilets, while 10 percent use non-improved facilities. Although the situation of urban dwellers looks better because 70 percent are estimated to have adequate sanitation facilities while 17 percent still use the bush, the urban coverage is decreasing due to growing informal settlements.

Regarding water, 98 percent of the urban population has access to safe water, while in the rural areas the coverage is 80 percent.

With estimates that 73 percent of the population projected at 2.8 million in 2030 will be living in urban settlement, more facilities will be needed to cater for them. The improvement of water supply will require US$92 million, while sanitation services will need US$288 million, for the country to attain long-term goals of Vision 2030.

This is contained in an assessment situation report for the review of the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Policy (WASSP), which was presented at a national workshop to review the policy yesterday.

The assessment attributed the poor performance of the sanitation sector to the institutional fragmentation introduced in the sector, which contradicts the objective and recommendation of WASSP.

The assessment states that if the policy was vigorously instead of selectively implemented for the past 15 years, the sanitation situation could have improved, thus reducing health services costs.

The policy is being reviewed for a number of reasons, including being consistent with new developments, poor performance in the provision of sanitation services and the coverage of rural water supply, which is more than rural sanitation.

The assessment, done by the Desert Research Foundation Namibia, said low sanitation coverage exists even though Namibia has other options for dry, eco and wet sanitation.

Undersecretary in the Department of Water Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Abraham Nehemia, said use of the bush by some people compounded efforts to provide clean water.

“If people still use the bush, it affects the water. We can’t provide clean water,” he said.

For lack of proper sanitation facilities, some rural and urban dwellers use the bush, bucket system and flying toilets.

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, in a speech read on his behalf by deputy minister, Isak Katali, said although Namibia could be applauded for providing improved access to water, the sanitation situation was not pleasing.

He noted that although responsibilities were allocated to different government institutions, the coverage they attained is still unsatisfactory.

“The 21 percent of the rural households that have access to sanitation will neither allow Namibia to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, nor a healthy environment, hence a different and an intensive approach is essential to be adopted sooner than later,” said Katali.

The review will harmonise the policy instruments, clarify roles and responsibilities and how they can effectively be implemented and also recommend the appropriate institutional arrangements for the sanitation sector where progress has been lacking.

The revised policy will replace the Water and Sanitation Policy of 1993.

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