By: Hertha Ekandjo
Most Namibians are still using open spaces such as bushes to relieve themselves, a parliamentary standing committee report has shown.
The committee on transport, infrastructure and housing, chaired by Swapo’s Alfeus Abraham, observed that defecation in the open was still practised in many parts of the country because of the absence of sanitation infrastructures.
The committee visited 11 regions from 10 February to 18 March 2022.
The report also states that three regions, namely Hardap, Kunene and //Karas, continue to use the outdated bucket toilet system as regional managers and CEOs decry a lack of subsidies from the urban and rural development ministry.
The delegation also observed that the CEOs and regional managers were defensive when confronted with questions and lacked cooperation to effectively do away with the hazardous system.
It noted that budget reduction continues to affect service delivery across the country, making it difficult to reach target communities and residents in sanitation infrastructure since a lot still needs to be done.
“Poor workmanship in some rural area constituency toilets was observed due to reluctance of officials to undertake supervision. Budgetary allocation proved to be a challenge since geographical landscapes are different,” the committee noted.
Moreover, they found that some regions tend to have more sandy soil whereas others are rocky, which influences the pricing of drilling or digging of toilet foundations, making it expensive.
The committee stated that vandalism to sanitation infrastructure remains a challenge due to a lack of ownership by the intended users, being the public.
According to the delegate, council resolutions that divert resources meant for sanitation contribute to the lack of sanitation infrastructure in towns and their informal settlements.
“Lack of proper coordination and attendance to meetings were expressed by some regional authorities between key stakeholders such as the ministry of agriculture, water and land reform, urban and rural development ministry, health ministry and the basic education and culture ministry,” it said.
The committee recommended that the finance ministry, through the urban and rural ministry in collaboration with the land reform ministry, avail more funds to all local authorities to expedite the eradication of open defecation and bucket systems which are still practised.
“Equally important, the urban ministry should prioritise more funding to all local authorities as this is needed to revamp the outdated sewer infrastructure and oxidation ponds,” said the committee.
The committee requested the land reform ministry, through rural water supply and coordination, to spearhead and continuously conduct awareness on sanitation programs to improve the Namibian people’s health and quality of life.
According to the delegate, when appropriating funds to both regional councils and local authorities, the urban and rural development ministry should consider geographical soil differences between sandy and rocky soil, as it affects the service delivery in terms of the number of sanitation infrastructure to be constructed in rocky areas.
“The line ministries “urban and rural’ should consider speedy releasing of funds to regions to effectively implement sanitation infrastructure programs. Regional councils to take the lead in coordinating and monitoring WATSAN and CLTS programs in order to improve the health and quality of life,” said the committee.
The delegation says that local authorities must prioritise sanitation infrastructure in all informal settlements as this would promote a hygienic environment, protect water sources from pollution and contribute to people’s improved health and quality of life.
Moreover, the committee said that the Lüderitz Sand Hotel informal settlement was in a filthy state and not fit for human occupation. Hence, they say there is an urgent need for it to be attended by all relevant government stakeholders such as the health and ministry, education ministry and //Karas Regional Council.
The delegation paid a visit to 10 regions in the country, respectively Omaheke, Otjozundjupa, Zambezi, Kavango East, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati, Kunene, and Erongo.
The visit was to look at the national projects on sanitation in the regions.
Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has requested a site visit to the NHE-constructed houses.
In a letter to National Housing Enterprise (NHE) boss Gisbertus Mukulu, dated 18 August, regarding allegedly unoccupied Mass Housing units, Venaani said that it was difficult to accept that, despite the presence of completed units which are unoccupied, there are still Namibians who do not have proper houses to call home.
Venaani has further written to Ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha to look into the matter.