Kavango West region villagers have once again been left frustrated and thirsty after another water pump was stolen last week.
Meanwhile, those with small irrigation schemes have been left without water for their crops.
Kavango West Nampol’s Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Abner Agas told The Villager that numerous cases have been reported about stolen pumps. Some culprits involved in such acts have been arrested, while many are still on the loose, he said.
A water pump valued at N$35,000 was reported stolen at the Siko village last Friday. This particular pump provides water to some villages in the Musese constituency as well as the village of Siko which lies approximately 43 km away from Nkurenkuru on the south-western banks of the Kavango river.
“These water pumps are stolen from the river and are being sold to some farmers and civil servants who are retired, just for a minimum amount of N$600. Some of the pumps we have recovered were stolen because people recruit thieves to steal water pumps for them,” the Deputy Commissioner said.
“I am issuing a warning that no stone will be left unturned [to recover stolen water pumps]. Also, villagers must watch over their water pumps,” he added.
Seven similar cases were opened with the police in the region this year.
However, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform spokesperson Jona Musheko, about 43 water pumps worth N$1,9 million were stolen in the two Kavango regions. Seventeen were solen in Kavango East and 25 in Kavango West this year, with a number of the thefts not reported to the police.
“It’s very frustrating and sad to know that we’re striving for development but some people are not happy about what we’re trying to do. The pump that was stolen has affected the people at the village, especially those that use it as a resource for clean water. Now people will be forced to go to the river and it’s dangerous as we all know about the human and wildlife conflict,” said Nimrod Mbudu Muremi, who five years ago donated a water pump to a community in the area.
He said those stealing water pumps are heartless, as many people in the region have small agriculture projects from which they eke out a living.
“We sell the produce that we get and consume part of it as food prices are increasing everyday and many cannot afford to buy straight from the market.”
Another resident of the area, Frans Mungongi and many impacted by the latest theft of a water pump said people in the area are not only stealing water pumps, but also breaking into small Cuca shops.
Mungongi believes that many of those stealing these pumps are mostly young people, which prompted them to set up a small anti-crime prevention group called “Youth Against Crime”.
A Siko village dweller Maria Muyenga also expressed her disappointment. “We have little harvest this year, and most of us are doing gardening to survive, and how can we water if the water pump was stolen. I am a mother of six children and unemployed. I do gardening and from the crops that I sell I sustain my family.”
Water Affairs Minister Calle Schlettwein has been voicing concerns over the ongoing theft of water pumps at State boreholes meant to serve needy communities in Namibia’s rural areas.
Schlettwein also indicated the theft of pumps is not only happening in Kavango East and West but has now spread to //Kharas, Zambezi, Ohangwena and Oshana regions.