Red Cross steps in to maintain sanitation

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GROSS BARMEN, 03 December 2014 - Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga introduces keynote speaker President Hifikepunye Pohamba during the reopening of the renovated Gross Barmen Resort near Okahandja on Wednesday. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

Nuusita Ashipala

Ondingwanyama-The Namibian Red Cross has pledged its continued support to national efforts aimed at strengthening water and sanitation issues in Namibia as well as actions contributing towards the country’s development goals.

Namibia Red Cross further pledged to support the United Nations Sustainable Goals, which call for countries to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by the year 2030.

“I can comfortably say that water and sanitation issues are very close to our hearts. Our commitment to this area can only be compared to the high expertise we have in disaster management, where we have successfully responded to floods and droughts that affected our country over the past nine years and before that,” said the deputy secretary general at Red Cross Namibia, Uahekua Herunga.

During the last two years between 2014 and 2016 the humanitarian organisation has protected 32 hand-dug wells, protected three springs, rehabilitated 44 hand pumps and installed 19 hand pumps and 49 water tanks benefiting more than 5,400 households.

In addition to water provision facilities, the humanitarian organisation has further constructed 742 ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines in Kunene, Kavango and Ohangwena regions. Herunga made the remarks at the free from open defecation event at Ondingwanyama this week. The Ondigwanyama village in Ohangwena Region has been declared the first free from open defecation village in the country after constructing toilets at all 68 households in the village.

“A village is declared open defecation-free when every household in the village has a toilet with superstructure to provide privacy and a hand-washing facility with water and soap or ash available,” explained Unicef country representative Micaela Maques de Sousa.

The pit latrines were constructed using local materials, including used tyres, sticks and plastic bags – with blankets to shield them, but the villagers want to be assisted financially to put up permanent structures, because many are not durable. The 64 villages where people were trained to implement the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme are also to be declared free from open defecation in due course.

Herunga said the water and sanitation programme in Kunene kicked off in the early 90’s and has since then protected springs, drilled boreholes and installed taps in rural areas where most of the communities were sharing their water sources with animals and risked contracting water-borne diseases.

He said such measures are vital for a country which has in the past experienced severe cholera outbreaks in Kunene, which were attributed to poor sanitation and hygiene.

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