Eveline de Klerk
Spitzkoppe-The small community living at the foot of the Spitzkoppe Mountains say safe drinking water is still a challenge and costly affair as they are being compelled to source it from elsewhere.
Residents make a living from small-scale farming and selling semi-precious stones to tourists. They have a primary school and a small clinic but very sick patients are referred to Usakos.
Residents spoke to New Era on Saturday about the water shortage, shortly after the belated independence celebration concluded at the settlement that is situated about 80 kilometres east of Swakopmund, in Erongo Region. Currently four tanks supply water to the whole community, apart from the school and hospital that have their own water tanks.
However the water from the community water tanks is deemed unfit for human consumption and thus can only be used for animals and household activities.
“Areva donated two tanks to us in 2011 and they are the ones from which we can get water for drinking and cooking. It was also undrinkable but Areva now purifies the water for us,” a resident explained.
Ester Naris, a teacher at Spitzkoppe, said they sometimes run out of water and have to go to nearby farms to collect it.
But Naris said that sometimes the surrounding farms also do not have water and residents are forced to go to Usakos to buy it.
“A 25-litre drum costs N$25 and then getting a hike to and from Usakos costs N$100. Even if you have a private car you still have to consider the cost of fuel,” she explained.
The 67-year-old pensioner, Gideon Goabeb, who has been living at Spitzkoppe for the past 31 years, also said that drinking water is really a challenge for the small community, adding that they want the government to look at finding a permanent solution to the problem.
“Sometimes our people are forced to drink sour water if there is no other alternative. Then they become sick.”
According to him the settlement also doesn’t have proper ablution facilities and a community hall.
“Our community can really benefit from it as well. We can’t host any events and if we happen to have an event such as the independence celebration we have to do it outside and the heat is impossible here.”
He however applauded the government for bringing the independence celebration to their settlement, saying that it makes them feel part of the country.
“We are thankful that we have been included in this year’s celebrations as we rarely witness such activities in our settlement,” he said