The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa says 46.5% of Namibians still defecate in the open due to the lack of proper sanitation facilities, both in urban and rural areas.
Access to improve sanitation is expected to increase from the current 34% to 70% coverage by 2017, as stated in the strategic plan. Water coverage in urban areas is 97.5 % and 75.5% in rural areas, whilst for sanitation, the coverage stands at 73% for urban areas but only at 22.7% for rural areas, the recent Namibia Demographic and Health Survey report showed. “We cannot also ignore the rapid rural-to-urban migration that is going on at the estimated alarming 3.5% per annum.
This has a major impact on water and sanitation service delivery, particularly in urban areas. The challenge now lies with the lack of progress on sanitation, with only 34% of the population having access to improved sanitation as indicated by the survey,” Mutorwa’s speech at the Water and Sanitation Sector Joint Annual Review meeting read.
While the Namibian target for drinking water was met, the target for sanitation was missed dismally. The water supply sector has made commendable achievements, according to the same survey report, as over 87% of households in Namibia have access to improved water supply.
“A number of programme actions to improve access to water and unsure water security have been implemented, amongst others the construction of the Neckartal dam, which is 44% complete; as well as the construction of the Divundu pipeline scheme and water treatment plant, which is 25%complete”, Mutorwa noted.
Under the present climate variability, water stress is already high, and climate change adds more urgency for action as floods, drought and water scarcity remain threats over the years in Namibia. Without improved water resource development and management, progress towards poverty reduction targets and sustainable development with all its economic, social and environmental dimensions will be jeopardized.
"Experience from Namibia and elsewhere has already shown that simply constructing toilets or offering subsidies for construction is not an effective way to improve sanitation,” Mutorwa added.
He then called on all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Finance, to place due value and accord the proper status upon the water and sanitation portfolio so that the sector realises reasonably proportionate resources’ allocation for the execution of new capital projects and the maintenance of existing ones.