Saturday, March 24, 2018

Namibia: Water Is Life


Kerirorere Muharukwa walks her way home with a donkey after collecting water for the family.  
39-year-old Motjao Mbinge and other villagers from Oukongo Village in northern Kunene region in Namibia every day endure a long walk under the scorching sun to fetch water from the possible nearby water stream. The 10-kilometer journey to the stream has become a daily necessity if the villagers are to meet their daily livelihood. This report was compiled by Ndalimpinga Iita.

 After 28 years of Namibian independence, nothing has change and natural springs are the main source of water. "We usually rely on rainfall for water. However, during the dry seasons like now, community members from five villages spent most their time, even the whole day trying to fetch water," said Mbinge, who is also a community leader. The water is however muddy and unfit for human consumption. "But we have no other choice but to utilize and survive on this water," she said. 

 According to Mbinge, although boreholes in surrounding areas may be an alternative source for water, water most drawn from the deep boreholes is saline. Villagers in Kunene have since then established other strategies by fetching water from the nearest town like Opuwo using cars and dog carts. Those who can afford vehicles have to broker deals with car owners who travel to Opuwo to buy water for them. 

About 25-liter container would cost about 20 Namibian dollars (1.68 U.S. dollars). "But this is unsustainable. Minding the questions being asked by Ishmael Tjaimi, a resident of Oukongo village: How many containers of water can you afford to buy for the household with more than five people? How will that be possible in an environment where income generating activities and employment is scarce?  The muddy water is thwarting the villagers, who said that sickness has since befallen their community.

The animals too have been affected, said Tjaimi. Due to lack of water, livestock is shepherded to drink from a sewage pond in Opuwo, the main town in Kunene region, consequently bearing hazardous health implications along the food chain. "We rely on our livestock for food and nutrition. But now, our goats drink from sewage ponds. Thus, when we milk our goats and feed our children, they get sick. So our only relief will be rainfall or the provision of potable drinking water by the government," said Mbinge. Wendy van der Merve, a health extension worker in Kunene region said that cases of diarrhea and cholera reported in the village and surrounding areas have increased, due to the consumption of unhygienic water. "Lately, cases of ill-health due to unclean and unsafe water have also been recorded amongst adult villagers, which was a rare occurrence in the past. Formerly, cases of diarrhea were mainly reported amongst children particularly those under the age of five," she said. 

According to van der Merve, despite efforts put in place to supply water purifying tablets to the community, it does not help much judging from the rising number of diarrhea cases. "This is evidence that the community is in a dire need for clean and safe drinking water," she said. Meanwhile, newly appointed Governor of Kunene region, Marius Sheya said plans are underway to inspect the affected villages as part of efforts to address their plight.

 The lack of access to safe drinking water remains a big challenge in the 21st century that faced the present generations, this was stated as the world observed the World Water Day on March 22.  Mbinge's account is the testimony that three in ten people worldwide lack access to safe water, especially in rural areas, according to the 2017 Report on Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene by the World Health Organization and (UNICEF). The report states that about 844 million have no access to basic drinking water service, including 263 million people who are likely to spend more than 30 minutes per trip collecting water from sources outside the home. Meanwhile, 159 million people still drink untreated water from surface water sources, such as streams or lakes, according to the report.

This year's World Water Day was commemorated under the theme "Nature for Water" International World Water Day was held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  The "Water Day" is being celebrated worldwide as a significant step to sensitize the protocols that were drafted by United Nations Conference-1992 on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. 

The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193, that makes Chapter 18 of UNCED (Fresh Water Resources) as an important Agenda 21.

Languages

Time

Time in Turkey:

Location

Recent Post