Government has allocated N$494.85 million for the development of the water sector and the supply of water to rural communities in communal areas.
Out of the N$494.85 million, N$242 million is earmarked for the construction of water supply security infrastructure, which includes the pilot plant for waste water reclamation at Gammams in Windhoek; expansion of the Oshakati Water Purification Plant and Rundu Water Purification Plant by Namwater.
This leaves N$252.85 million for other water-related development activities in rural areas.
This was revealed by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Alpheus !Naruseb, when he motivated a budget of N$1.96 billion allocated to the ministry for the 2019/20 financial year.
He said N$427.75 million is for the development of the agricultural sector. Of this amount, N$98.92 million is earmarked for the Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project, as government counterpart funding in accordance with the agreement between government and the African Development Bank.
!Naruseb said N$293.83 million is allocated for the implementation of agricultural activities such as the green scheme programme, including the development of Neckartal Dam phase two irrigation project; the processing and marketing of horticultural produce as well as the implementation of climate mitigation measures through conservation agriculture.
Furthermore, N$35 million is allocated for the completion of ongoing construction of veterinary clinics and staff accommodation infrastructure countrywide.
An amount of N$22.54 million is earmarked for the development of the forestry sector; and N$66,1 million has been allocated to supervision and support services.
"The budget I am motivating is for the basic needs for human kind, namely, bread and butter issues, and food and water, without which life comes to a standstill and for the sustainable socio-economic development of our people," he motivated.
However, he said it is disheartening to note that despite the significance of agriculture, water and forestry to the nation's livelihood and economic development, the allocations to this crucial sector of the economy is continuously on a decline.
Namibia has also made commitments at global, continental, regional and national levels. The allocations to the sector have dropped from an average of 4.6 percent over the past 11 years to 2.9 percent of the total national budget currently.
This, he said is contrary to the commitment as a country under the frameworks of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 at global level, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme at continental level as articulated in the Maputo and Malabo Declarations where we committed ourselves to allocate not less than 10 percent of national budget to agriculture.
Furthermore, he noted, at national level, the agricultural sector has an obligation to ensure that there is food at all times to feed the growing population and that no one dies of hunger, which is attributed to lack of food. This is outlined in the country's Vision 2030, the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), where agriculture is one of the four strategic priority sectors to be fast-tracked during the Harambee period.
According to him, agriculture remains a strategic sector as it continues to supports about 70 percent of the Namibian population and employs about 167 242 individuals (90 076 male and 77 166 female), which represents 15.3 percent of the total Namibian workforce (Namibia Labour Force Survey, 2018).
He further noted that for Namibia to attain the noble objectives of Vision 2030, NDP5 and HPP, agriculture that supplies water, food and raw materials required for industrialisation need to be accorded the priority it deserves in the national budget allocation.
This, he says is because agriculture is inextricably linked with, and is key for the attainment of 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals.