A single water point provides water for over 2 000 residents of Donkerhoek informal settlement at Khorixas where those with the financial means are compelled to construct their own toilets.
Residents with the money have to construct their own toilets because the Khorixas Town Council does not construct toilets for residents, they maintained.
Donkerhoek informal settlement residents, who reside near Hollywood location, have to walk more than 600 metres to the only water point to fetch water.
Residents have also called for the re-establishment of the food-for-work programme, as the majority of them are unemployed and they starve while others complained of pre-paid water cards that cost N$200, which is unaffordable for most of them.
Only one water point at the informal settlement is functional and most residents have to fetch water from broken pipes, some of which are situated close to the riverbed.
Thomas Jonas, a community leader, said some residents are walking more than 600m to the only water point to fetch water.
Jonas said for the past few years, water points at the informal settlement have been breaking down regularly. He attributes the water scarcity to a few water points catering for the needs of hundreds.
The informal settlement has no toilets besides the ones constructed by the residents and others who cannot afford to construct toilets are forced to use the riverbed to relieve themselves – a situation that makes women vulnerable to rape at night.
“People are suffering here. We only have one water point used by the whole community and lack of toilets plus poverty striking us. We are suffering here. Government must introduce food for work programme for us so we can at least fight hunger,” Jonas said.
He said though government allocates money, the town council never completes these projects.
Some parts of the informal settlement do not have electricity while most of the lights in the streets are not functioning at all.
Nathaniel /Gowaseb, who was seen carrying containers to fetch water, said, “It’s a long distance one has to walk to get water. Council must fix the water taps for us.” When New Era visited the informal settlement some kiddy goats could be seen drinking water a few metres away from where residents were fetching water with plastic containers and cups.
Unemployed mother of four, Maria //Uises, revealed that for about five months now she and her family have been using water flowing from broken pipes running next to a riverbed, as she cannot afford to buy a pre-paid card for water since she is unemployed and that is a luxury way beyond her means.
“At times we don’t have money to recharge our pre-paid water card so we fetch the water coming out from broken pipes. It’s a health risk but what can one do when life forces you to that point,” asked //Uises.
As //Uises was being interviewed by New Era, her four-year-old son poured water with a plastic bottle into a 10-litre container.
She called upon the government to start food-for-work programmes at the informal settlement so that thousands of families will have something to put in the stomach, at least once a day.
//Uises said she and many others who fetch water next to the riverbed do not boil it first, as that could cost firewood – which is hard to find in the area – so they just drink the water.
Khorixas Town Council acting CEO Eben Xoagub said the council has given out a tender for the installation of water meters at all the houses at the informal settlement.
On the issue of lack of toilets, Xoagub said, “Only when we get enough money from the government can we initiate more projects.” When asked about the cost of pre-paid cards for water, Xoagub sarcastically replied, “Must we sell cards for N$40 while we get them for N$500?”
Khorixas Town Council will embark on N$8 million development project at Donkerhoek informal settlement, according to media reports early this year.