Namibia is ranked among the countries with low sanitation coverage, with over 50 percent of the country having no access to proper sanitation services especially when it comes to the provision of clean drinking water and sewerage disposal.
Unicef country representative Micaela Marques de Sousa made the revelation during the handing over of water tankers to the government on Wednesday.
She said the intense drought faced by the arid southern Africa during the 2015/2016 agricultural season, followed by floods in the northern part of Namibia,worsened sanitation in many communities, especially in rural areas.
“The drought conditions and now the floods have further compromised sanitation services for families,” said de Sousa.
She noted that over a quarter of families in Namibia have become food insecure because of poor crop yields.
The Unicef representative stressed the situation is equally challenging with regard to school-based hygiene and sanitation, “with over a quarter of schools (27 percent) not confident of the safety of their water supply”.
Due to the absence of sanitation facilities people have resorted to open defecation practice, which in turn has an impact on their health.
Diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia resulting from poor sanitation and open defecation are the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality in Namibia, states data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Diarrhoeal diseases remain an immense contribution to high stunting rates, with “24 percent prevalence of stunting among children under-five in the country,” a study shows.
It is in this regard that Unicef has joined forces to support the Namibian government with the provision of water and sanitation to communities.
De Sousa said encouraging improved knowledge, attitudes and good hygiene practices are important components of the support they offer.
“Information and knowledge on how to reduce contamination during water transportation, storage, treatment, and safe handling of the water are thus vital to ensure the water supplied to families remains safe,” stated de Sousa.