NamWater faces enormous financial challenges

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-NamWater CEO, Dr Vaino Shivute, says the water utility is not receiving any subsidies from central government thus experiencing enormous challenges in executing its mandate in assuring the continuous supply of potable water to all Namibians.

Upon its establishment in 1997, NamWater received N$277 million from government and since then only relied on its own financial resources.

Shivute made the revelations recently when he and his delegation appeared before the Standing Committee on Habitat at the National Council on water issues in the country.

As part of its oversight function, and in addition to the recently concluded inspection visits to the regions to ascertain the status in the supply of basic commodities such as water to the rural communities, the National Council Standing Committee on Habitat summoned NamWater to shed more light on issues pertinent in the supply of this basic commodity to the communities of the regions visited.

Shivute gave impetus to the questions raised by the concerned communities and shed more light on the status quo of supplying water overall to all inhabitants of the country, the successes and challenges experienced by the water entity.

He noted that there is a tendency among some councils not to pay their water bills although they would be in a capacity to do so.

He went on to say many a times such councils seek sympathy with politicians, a scenario that puts the entity in a bad light.

According to him, NamWater at several occasions has written off debts but cannot continuously do so, as it creates a precedence of accommodating debt, while it creates a tendency of not honouring one’s obligation towards the water entity.

Shivute noted that various town and village councils across the country owe millions of dollars to the water entity, hampering the execution of the mandate of the entity. Negatively affected, he said, are the rehabilitation, renovation and establishment of the needed water infrastructure across the country.

He, however, could not say how much these councils owe the water entity. Furthermore, the Chairperson of the National Council Standing Committee on Habitat, Cletius Sipapela, expressed the need for government to subsidise NamWater to fully and effectively provide potable water to Namibians, especially in the rural areas.

“There is a saying that ‘water is life’, it should be regarded as such and, therefore, should receive the priority it deserves if, for example, it is regarded very important to build a tarred road to all corners of the country of which the latter receives enormous funding and support from central government,” noted Sipapela.

The same Standing Committee on Habitat also met officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as well as Urban and Rural Development.

The Standing Committee on Habitat conducted regional visits from 10-29 July 2017 to ascertain the rural water supply and land servicing initiatives from the relevant line ministries and stakeholders.

It transpired during the meeting that although budget allocation remains a challenge in the provision of needed essential services, the water ministry is trying the utmost best to assist the communities with the little funds available at its disposal.

The committee noted that special arrangements, for example, are in place especially for the San communities whom found themselves in situations where they cannot afford to pay for services such as the supply of water.

Due to limited funds, the committee said the agriculture ministry welcomed the idea of some community members buying water meters, which they donate to the ministry, whom the latter maintains to avoid cutting water supply to vulnerable members of society.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development through the Permanent Secretary Nghidinua Daniel said the Public Private Partnership Act will assist in availing land and accommodation to the people.

He noted that the compilation of the Regional and Urban Planning Bill is at an advance stage, which will replace the Township Boards and the Namibia Planning Advisory Board.

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