Water project costs govt N$5 million

Onankali-Hundreds of community members flocked to the Rural Water Supply offices at Onankali in the Oshikoto region on Monday to hand in applications for private water off-take meters - a programme halted nearly two years ago due to financial problems.

Water off-take meters are gauges that measure water consumption of individual households, and therefore allow their homes to connect to the main water supply.

Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry committed over N$5 million towards the project.

When completed it will allow over 4,000 households in the four northern regions of Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena to have access to po table tap water at their homesteads.

This represents progress from the current situation where most communities have to draw water from a central communal point located more than two kilometres from each house on average.

The scheme makes 1,000 people from each of the four regions eligible to register for a water meter during the current financial year.

It requires the individual applicants to pay a connection fee of N$1,200 per application, an amount that will translate into N$1.2 million in additional revenue for Oshikoto region alone.

Stevenson Tuukondjele, the head of rural water supply and sanitation in Oshikoto, said government gave them an instruction to resume the programme because resources and materials had now become available. The project will cover areas along the main water pipeline that traverses the Oshikoto region.

"Considering the need for access to clean drinking water in the region, government has taken a significant move to fork out money for this project that will address a pressing matter, despite the financial hurdles it faces.

"Therefore, it permits us to take in 1,000 applications, although we will only take in 919 applicants because we already had a backlog dating to 2015 when the programme was stopped due to lack of resources and material.

"Last year we only dealt with emergency cases such as when there was a need for construction of a clinic or school, or instances where a doctor issued a request due to some patients' illness," Tuukondjele stressed.

The regional office would continue to take in applications until it reached the 1,000 limit, and as of late yesterday afternoon nearly 600 people were still queuing up.

"We will only deal with those applicants that are along the water pipeline. We will service those in the areas of Engodhi East, Omuntele, King Nehale lya Mpingana and part of Omuthiya constituency at a later stage because they are connected to boreholes.

"Nevertheless we will take the applications of everyone. I want to make it clear that no one should see this as a discriminatory practice against those that are going to be left out.

"Especially those within the areas under water pipelines, because this is only the first phase for this financial year, and we will cater for the others in the upcoming financial year," Tuukondjele said.

He reiterated that government had already executed the programme in Ohangwena and Oshana, and now it was the turn for Omusati and Oshikoto regions.

"The application fee has not been changed for the past 10 years, and this is to make sure that it remains affordable so that everyone can have access to water.

"In the same vein, I urge all beneficiaries to protect these metres against vandalism because they are too costly to purchase and repair," he stated.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia