Omuthiya — Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) execut ive direc tor Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata has assured residents of Okankolo, Eengodi and Nehale Lyampingana constituencies in the Oshikoto region that they will be provided with emergency water soon.
Nghituwamata stated in a public notice issued to Nampa on Friday that the ministry is mobilising water tanker trucks to provide emergency water supply to affected communities countrywide.
“Five water tanker trucks of different carrying capacities have been sourced from the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs; Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security; Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; and the Office of the Judiciary, complementing our own water trucks for Oshikoto,” he noted. With respect to water supply challenges in the Oshikoto region, he assured residents that the government is engaged at the “highest level” to ensure that the water supply is restored. The ministry also committed that in future, they will communicate in advance so that every user is informed of any interruption to water supply in their respective communities.
“The ministry sincerely regrets the inconvenience being experienced by communities in the north-central regions of Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena as well as the Daures constituency in the Erongo region, the Tondoro constituency in Kavango West and the Otjombinde constituency in the Omaheke region,” continued Nghituwamata.
Separately, Eengodi constituency councillor Protasius Neshuku reported an altercation which took place at Onalufipa village at traditional wells on Friday.
He said four Angolan nationals employed at neighbouring villages found a male pensioner drawing water with his grandchildren at the wells.
“They apparently claimed that the traditional wells which the elderly man was drawing water from were theirs. So, they started fighting with the man after his grandchildren ran away,” Neshuku told Nampa. He said they beat up the man until he escaped to neighbouring houses. A case was then opened by the police a g a i n st the se four Angol an nationals.
The councillor is urging communities to help one another during these difficult times while they wait for the government to intervene because drought is a natural disaster.
Meanwhile, the high demand of potable water in the Oshikoto region has forced Steven Tuukondjele, the regional head of rural water supply directorate to request the public to assist with their trucks to transport water to rural areas.
“We need at least 10 trucks. We have 20 schools without water in the region. Teachers and learners are suffering,” he said.
In addition, he said the Oshikoto region has two trucks which are all broken.
Despite the plans made by the government to construct boreholes, the water crisis remains a major challenge in the northern region. The water of five Oshikoto boreholes, costing approximately N$4 million, is deemed unsafe for human and animal consumption. The region, which continues to face water scarcity, especially in the deep rural areas where water pressure is low, carried out an experimental intervention in rural constituencies that are historically prone to saline underground water.
The constituency councillor of Nehale lya Mpingana, Joseph Shilongo said the lack of water at school has forced teachers to fetch water from the wells.
“Teachers and learners don’t have access to clean water. Community members are also affected because they have to travel long distances to fetch water from the wells,” said the councillor. A teacher at a school in Eengodi constituency said this year, they didn’t receive any tank of water from the ministry. “It’s tough being a teacher in the Oshikoto region. We are suffering. We normally wake up at an early hour to fetch water because if you go later, you will not find water at the wells,” he said. Another teacher, who has a nine month old son, said life is not easy for her as she must bring along containers of water from town. ” The water crisis will force us to move to other schools because nobody would want to teach at the school without water,” she added.
Earlier this year, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein announced that the ministry has allocated N$15 million to address water shortages in northern regions.
Schlettwein was responding to regional councillors and traditional leaders after they registered their water challenges.
He said the ministry will remain responsive and committed to addressing the water issues with the urgency they warrant.
The minister hastened to stress that water is life to human beings and livestock, “therefore, it is very important that people have clean water to drink”.
Meanwhile, Eengodi councillor Neshuku, further said the residents prefer to fetch water from the wells and that some villages do not even have wells.
Neshuku said some elderly and expecting women walk long distances to fetch water from the wells, which is not safe for them. “Mothers of babies travel long distances, looking for water for their young ones, since water from the boreholes is saline,” he said.