The Namibian (Windhoek)

30 November 2012

Namibia: Water for Poor Communities in Rural Areas to Be Subsidised

GOVERNMENT has decided to subsidise water supply to the “very and genuinely poor” of the country, the minister of agriculture, water and forestry, John Mutorwa, announced in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics, Natural Resources and Public Administration suggested targeted interventions to lighten the water debts of pensioners, orphans, the unemployed, those living with HIV-AIDS and rural communal farmers.

But Mutorwa said summarily writing off accumulated water debts involved more than just his ministry and NamWater.

Be that as it may, the chairperson of the standing committee, Swapo Party MP Ben Amadhila, said this was welcome news nine years and three agricultural ministers after a motion was first introduced by DTA president Katuutire Kaura in October 2003 which moved for the abolishment of NamWater, premised on the notion that water debts by communal farmers be written off.

This motion was shot down by the majority in November 2003, reintroduced in October 2008 and referred to the standing committee for further investigation.

The motion lapsed during the 2009/10 elections, but Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko in June this year recommended revisiting the findings and recommendations of the standing committee.

Amadhila said the committee then reviewed its recommendations on how to mitigate the water debt situation of communal farmers in Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Oshana, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke.

Cabinet earlier this year also considered the request for the subsidisation of water for the rural and urban poor, and opted to subsidise poor rural and urban households at an estimated cost of N$23,5 million per year, to start during the 2016/17 financial year.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has budgeted N$17 million for rural households, and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development has set aside N$6,5 million.

During the implementing period, NamWater and local authorities must submit a subsidy request to relevant government institutions for financial transfers.

NamWater and local authorities must then also put in place appropriate billing systems to accommodate the subsidy.

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