30 January 2013

Namibia: Safe Drinking Water a Luxury for Many Keetmans Residents

MANY Keetmanshoop residents have no choice but to fetch drinking water from a stream flowing from a spring called 'Fonteintjie', just outside town.

The Fonteintjie stream, filled with weeds and algae, has become the only source of water for poorer residents of the town, who live in informal settlements.

Horses, donkeys and dogs also drink from the same water source, which runs past the town's Ileni informal settlement.

Spotted while collecting water from the stream, 58-year-old unemployed Maria Higoam said she had no choice but to drink the untreated water from the fountain, as the water supply to her house had been cut off due to an unpaid water bill of N$3 000.

Asked whether she was aware that untreated water posed a health risk, Higoam replied: "What can I do, I am forced by circumstances to compromise my health by drinking the poor quality water daily."

A community activist and paralegal, Johannes (Eddie) Goliath, who is advocating for free access to water for all, said close to 500 households do not have access to safe drinking water in Keetmanshoop. Denying people water is a violation of human rights, Goliath maintained.

"The provision of water and ensuring its affordability is not a charity act, but an obligation of the State and the right of each resident," Goliath said.

According to municipal statistics, between 300 and 500 households have been disconnected from the town's water network due to debt.

A senior municipal official revealed that residents owe the town council N$30 million in unpaid water bills.

Copyright © 2013 The Namibian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.