Namibia: N$23m for Drought Emergency Washed Down the Drain

17 November 2020

THE N$23 million in drought emergency funds the government allocated to the //Kharas regional council last year to improve water infrastructure seem to have gone to waste, as rehabilitated water points remain dysfunctional.

According to sources familiar with the water projects in the region, about 90% of the rehabilitated water points are still mal-functional because the contractors //Kharas Regional Council hired allegedly lacked skills to rehabilitate, instal, and clean water points.

The funds, the sources said, have been depleted, leaving many communal farmers still facing serious water shortages.

The council's chief regional officer, Beatus Kasete, yesterday dismissed claims that 90% of the rehabilitated water points are dysfunctional. He said only five of the 100 rehabilitated water points were malfunctioning because of poor water quality and quantity, wind problems and clogging.

"As per our records, we have achieved a success rate of 95%," he insisted.

Kasete confirmed that council had recorded water complaints from various localities across the region.

"Apart from about five problematic water points on the rehabilitated and newly installed boreholes, most complaints recorded are from water points already on the maintenance list and were not part of the rehabilitation programme," he added.

He defended the appointment of contractors, saying it was done in accordance with the Procurement Act. "This was an emergency response programme that had to be implemented in the shortest possible time to bring immediate relief to affected communities," he remarked.

Hence, said Kasete, the programme was implemented fully and the budget was exhausted.

Communal farmers'

water woes

Communal farmers in //Kharas region have inundated The Namibian with complaints over their water woes.

They blame the government for their water problems and charge that the //Kharas Regional Water Supply Directorate staff responsible for maintaining the water points were unresponsive to their plight.

Josef Motinga, one of the affected farmers, said the communal farm Ukhos in the Berseba district, where he farms, has been without water since July this year.

"When we complain to the regional water supply directorate, we're told the government has no money," he remarked.

Motinga claimed he has to move his livestock about 30 kilometres to the nearest water point.

"We have been reduced to water scavengers," he fumed, adding that the earth dam where they sourced water for the livestock had also dried up.

He said although there was an attempt to rehabilitate the farm's water point a few months back, the contractors only pulled down the windmill and left.

Another affected farmer, Fanie Bloodstaan, said a contractor hired to instal a water tank at the communal farm Landshut had only damaged the pumping system of the windmill, leaving about six households and close to 1 000 livestock without water.

Bloodstaan called on the central government to intervene, and suggested that an investigation into the water-related projects in the region be launched.

The regional water supply directorate acting head, Anna Routh, confirmed the office is inundated with complaints over dysfunctional water points.

"I have instructed the technical officials to attend to the water problems," she added

She, however, said only the regional head, Bertie Bezuidenhout, who is on leave, can provide more details on the water issues.

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