Ashiyaha and adjoining villages in Okankolo Constituency in Oshikoto Region are in the grip of an acute water crisis.
Villagers say the situation is compounded by recurring drought, as earth dams and traditional wells they depend on have dried up due to insufficient rainfall last rainy season.
New Era recently visited one of the villages where villagers have to contend with highly salty water, as there are no alternative sources of water.
About eight villages with more than 1 000 people in the eastern Okankolo Constituency are affected by the acute water shortage.
The villages have faced the same problem for the last five years due to the depletion of the groundwater level and the high salinity.
“The situation here is really bad. We have been facing the same problem for the last few years due to depletion of underground water level, we have no water to drink at all,” lamented one of the villagers.
Villagers are now forced to walk long distances to get water at the nearest village of Ontana, which is 10 kilometres away.
“Most of the women here trek long distances to fetch a pail of water. Normally in peak summer there are some wells and boreholes with sufficient water for ourselves and our animals but this time even before the peak of summer we are facing water shortage,” said Mathew Mukunda, one of the affected inhabitants at Ashiyaha.
The villagers continue to depend on earth pond water, which is unsafe for drinking and unhygienic.
“For the past 25 years, we have had no clean water to drink at all. The politicians just come to us for votes but not to solve our problems,” said Elina Taukondjele, one of the villagers at Ashiyaha.
New Era has learnt that about 300 homesteads in one centre alone are going without water for daily consumption and also for their animals.
For the past few months, however, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s Department of Rural Water Supply at Onankali has been distributing water to the community on a monthly basis.
Unfortunately, the ministry’s 10 000-litre water tank is not big enough to meet the village’s water needs.
On Wednesday, the water department was distributing water at the centre but thousands went back home empty-handed, as the water ran out.
Despite the water department’s efforts, the villages affected by water scarcity in Okankolo and Eengodi constituencies are too many. The tank supplies more than 23 centres with each centre comprising more than three villages.
The villagers say the last time the water tank was at Ashiyaha was on April 26, leaving them with no choice but to drink brackish water from earth ponds.
Some villagers were rushed to hospitals at Omuthiya complaining of stomach pains, which they attributed to the saline and unhygienic water they have been consuming.
The situation is so serious that some elders have been opting not to wash their clothes to save water for their children to drink, while others go without food, as they have no water to cook with.