Namibia: Kavango West Builds Reed Pit Latrines for N$14 980 Each

The Kavango West Regional Council (KWRC) has spent over N$700 000 on the construction of 48 pit latrines.

The latrines were built with local materials, such as reeds, in four constituencies under the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) project.

Each pit latrine is estimated at N$14 980.

This was last week revealed by chief regional officer Mpasi Haingura.

In the past, the government has constructed pit latrines with brick walls.

Haingura said this was not financially viable.

"The regional council now assists with the building of the foundation slabs and roofing, and lets the beneficiary decide what type of locally available material to use for the wall," he said.

The Mpungu, Kapako, and Ncamagoro constituencies received 14 pit latrines each, while the Nkurenkuru constituency received six.

The facilities were built at the homesteads of certain identified beneficiaries, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

Haingura said more pit latrines are to be constructed before the end of this financial year at Mankupi, Ncuncuni, Musese and Tondoro.

The CLTS and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) projects have been launched by president Hage Geingob under the Harambee Prosperity Plan II.

The project started in the 2021/22 financial year with the aim to build 6 400 toilets by 2025 at a cost of N$24 million.

The construction of the latrines with local materials is, however, not fully welcomed by some community members and leaders.

The chairperson of the Kavango West Regional Council's management committee, Joseph Sivaku, said they were instructed by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development last year to submit an activity plan for the rural sanitation programme for the 2022/23 financial year.

The regional council was allocated an amount of N$1 538 000 to roll out the programme.

So far, N$714 372 has been spent on 48 toilets.

The ministry has given a directive to officials from the regional council and rural service division, the Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform to produce an activity plan to implement the project.

The project's scope of work was to construct the foundation of the pit latrines and erect toilet pots.

The remaining materials are left up to the beneficiary to decide what locally available material they can use to cover the walls of the latrine.

The groundwork was done by local construction companies which were allocated tenders by the regional council.

This spending does not sit well with Sivaku, who claims the pit latrines fill up fast.

This, he says, has resulted in many being abandoned and residents resorting to the bush.

He was referring to facilities which have been built by the government in rural areas some years ago.

"If a pit latrine gets full, there will be a need to construct another one. What if we can come up with flush toilets to concentrate on residents who have water, or build toilets with septic tanks that can be emptied?" Sivaku asked.

Community members have taken to social media to protest against the project.

One of them is youth activist Kupembona Kasoma, a resident of Nkurenkuru.

"Someone has to be held accountable. If this is true, then some people are taking our government for granted. What was the specifications and conditions for the award of this tender?" he asked on Facebook.

"This is really disrespectful and disregards our people's dignity. These planners and engineers are playing with people," he said.

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