Villagers at Okanguati settlement in Epupa Constituency in the Kunene Region survive on brackish, salty water, which is barely fit for human consumption.
According to Epupa Constituency Councillor Nguzu Muharukua, people in the Okanguati area struggle with access to water. Although twenty boreholes were drilled last month, only four have water, but it is not quite fit for human consumption, as it salty and makes villagers’ teeth yellow.
He said the existing water problem is not new and has been experienced at Okanguati settlement way before he took office as Epupa constituency councillor in 2010. “I found that problem (water) before I became a constituency councillor and it’s nothing new,” Muharukua said.
Sufficient water was found 14 kilometers away from Okanguati, according to Muharukua, but a pipeline needs to be put in place. Installing a pipeline will cost a lot of money, but that is the only foreseeable solution, as the water they currently consume is not good for their health, he further said.
Unemployment in Epupa Constituency is a thorn in a flesh for Muharukua and he wants the government to address it by taking more youth from his area into employment and training, the majority of whom belong to the marginalised communities of Ovahimba, Ovatue and others.
“Unemployment is very high here, especially among the youth and vocational training can take them away from it. Many of these communities are marginalised,” Muharukua stressed.
Drought has also affected the communities in Epupa Constituency as many have plunged deeper into poverty, as many of their livestock have perished.
Muharukua also called on the government to build more school hostels in Epupa, as many pupils are accommodated in informal hostels due to the long distances they have to walk from their villages.
“Some pupils are walking a distance of five kilometers, or even more, to attend school so we need more hostels. The pupils at hostels only survive from the school feeding programme,” Muharukua further said.
The water that Muharukua said is unfit for human consumption is also used by more than 300 pupils at Okanguati Combined School. The school is one of the few in the area with a proper hostel.