Water shortage is crippling agriculture – Saloranta

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Windhoek

Ambassador of Finland to Namibia Anne Saloranta says good governance is important for securing water and sanitation services, and to promptly deliver these services there is a need to focus on transparency and accountability.

Saloranta said the looming water crisis has forced people think in new and innovative ways. She said everyone is painfully aware that Namibia is facing severe water shortages that are having a major impact on the agricultural sector, thus affecting a large portion of the population, which is dependent on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood.

She explained that water shortages are also likely to have a significant impact on the private sector and not only on highly water-dependent industries.

“Therefore it is indeed important to ensure sustainable and equitable use and distribution of water and the effective provision of sanitation services,” she said during a public dialogue on improving integrity and accountability in the provision of water and sanitation services through the use of an “integrity management toolbox”.

Saloranta said they have been working with the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) since last year to enhance decision-making aimed at sustainable development through research, training and consultancies in Namibia’s land, water and energy sector.

The goal of the project is to contribute towards the promotion of participatory democracy in the provision of water supply and sanitation services in two pilot towns and municipalities: Oshakati and Oshikuku.

Head of water programmes at DRFN Rennie Munyayi said despite the country’s many socio-economic successes it remains one of the countries with the lowest sanitation coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“ DRFN believes that in order to extend services to the poor and marginalised and to make development more effective it is essential to address integrity, accountability and transparency, which are key pillars for improved governance,” Munyayi said.

She said they believe that improved water and sanitation service delivery cannot be assured unless local authorities and other key agents with the mandate to supply water and sanitation services transform their institutions, with emphasis on transparency, accountability and enforceability, thus improving institutional governance.

DRFN project officer Bernadette Shalumbu said they trained staff at Oshikuku and Oshakati on how to use the integrity management toolbox, focusing on top and middle management.

She said they focused on six steps, with the first being awareness-raising and defining what integrity means.
The next step focused on the relevant business model, with regard to how the business delivers its services.
Shalumbu said one local authority identified as major risks the theft of public funds, poor performance of contractors, vandalism and personal interest and self-enrichment of managers.

She said local authorities had to propose what solutions they have in mind for these problems and to fit these into their business model.

She further said the reason for the training was that they saw the challenges facing local authorities in terms of providing services, such as water and sanitation, hence the training.

Shalumbu said after the training local authorities would be expected to plan in terms of financial and personnel allocation to deliver on its mandate.

They will further have to share the new roadmap with the mayors of their municipalities, she concluded.

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