Community demands services

29 May 2019 | Local News

Some disgruntled villagers in Mashare constituency demand access to basic services such clean drinking water and electricity, saying they have been patient for too long.

The villagers told Ewi lyaNooli this month that 29 years after Namibia gained its independence they are still without access to potable water, having to rely on water from the Okavango River while others have to walk long distances to the nearest water point.

The villagers from Mashare village, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that their lives would only improve once they have access to purified water and electricity.

“We have been surviving on water from the river and living without electricity is just another challenge we are faced with. It is not fair for us to live this way,” one villager said.

On the issue of access to electricity, the villagers are asking why rural electrification programmes are being implemented successfully in other constituencies around the country and not in Mashare.

They say only those who are well off are able to pull electricity from the nearest transformer, which is a costly exercise for many.

“We hear about rural electrification in other villages but those things don't come to us. All we see are electrical poles passing through our villages. We need electricity because we want to open businesses which can help us survive and have light at night,” the villagers said.

Mashare constituency councillor Phillip Mavara explained that some of the challenges people in the community are facing are the result of a lack of funds to implement planned projects.

Mavara said there are plans for rehabilitating boreholes at several villages.

He said some boreholes are not in operation because the communities are responsible for maintaining them but they are not playing their part, as they expect the government to do it for them.

“You see, when a borehole is handed over to the community, they are responsible for getting the parts while the government can only do the major repairs. I understand how important potable water is to the community and plans are in place, however we all know the government's financial situation is not good,” Mavara said.

He said that the constituency office focused on first connecting all government institutions with the power grid. Once that is done, it can turn its attention to rural electrification.

“You cannot speak about development without electricity and rural electrification in Mashare is a challenge,” Mavara said.

“We first focused on electrifying the government infrastructure and we have done that. Now we are going to engage the various stakeholders to assist in making rural electrification a success in Mashare. If funds were available we could start with it as soon as possible but that's not the case.”

Mavara also used the opportunity to shed light on other challenges the constituency is faced with, such as the poor rainfall which has affected subsistence farmers badly and the serious need for marginalised people to be assisted.

At the time of the interview, a number of villagers approached the Mashare constituency office in order to register for the drought-relief programme, which Mavara said was going well.

“This year the poor rain resulted in our people not expecting any harvest. The government has intervened and people are now registering for the drought-relief programme,” he said.

On the issue of the marginalised San community, Mavara said their situation worsens during winter.

“Our San people are suffering and during winter it's worse because they sleep in the open and it's cold,” he said.

When asked what the office is doing to assist the marginalised community, Mavara said there are programmes to assist the San people.