24 October 2012

Namibia: Govt to Subsidise Water for the Poor

CABINET has approved a submission by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to subsidise water supply to around 84 000 poor households from 2016. Subsidising the households is expected to cost the taxpayer up to N$23.5 million a year.

The brunt of this cost will be shared between the ministries of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.

It was decided on 2016 because Cabinet first want a comprehensive analysis due to complexities and the high cost involved in implementing the decision, The Namibian understands.

Statistics show that Namibia has about 221 061 rural households of which 84 420 are regarded as poor.

The highest number of poor households are in the Kavango and Ohangwena regions. Both regions have about 16 000 poor households.

“Our ministry is now busy with the details as to how exactly this thing is going to work,” said Agriculture Minister, John Mutorwa.

About 56% of water used in Namibia is drawn from dams, rivers and so-called unconventional sources while the remaining 44% is abstracted from groundwater sources, according to resource analysts.

Although thousands of water points have been set up in rural areas, many households had their taps disconnected because they couldn’t afford to pay for the water they and their livestock consumed.

The Namibia Press Agency (Nampa) reported yesterday that the San communities at Otjinene in the Omaheke Region are currently without water and electricity because they can’t pay for these services. The same goes for residents of the Kuvukiland informal settlement at Tsumeb, who have complained of a water shortage in recent weeks.

The subsidy system will require that institutions like NamWater and local authorities submit a subsidy request to the agriculture ministry for a financial transfer to cover the cost of the water consumed.

“The system requires that institutions like NamWater and local authorities put the appropriate billing systems in place to accommodate the proposed subsidy, otherwise the successful implementation may be compromised,” an agriculture ministry document reads.

The ministry said a national assessment is necessary to generate data not only on the number of poor households, but also how they can be linked to the water supply network.

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