Pensions spent on paying water boys

25 September 2019 | Local News

Ewi lyaNooli has learnt that pensioners living on their own at Ncamagoro village in the Kavango West Region use part of their monthly pensions to pay young men in the community to fetch water for them.

Some of the community members also say the long distance to the nearest water points has forced them to ask relatives in other regions to give them donkeys to transport water with.

When this reporter was travelling along the B8 main road between Rundu and Mururani, he spotted Festus Ntaata at Ncamagoro village, walking behind five donkeys carrying between two and four containers each.

The containers were empty though; there was no water in the tank at the communal borehole.

Ntaata said he was on his way home, which is about three kilometres away, and would have to return in the afternoon.

“As you can see I have to return home because there is no water. I left home around 05:00 this morning but unfortunately it was time wasted as there is no water to take back home. This happens occasionally,” Ntaata said.

Ntaata cited the long distance to the water point, as well as the fact that sometimes there is no water in the tank, as the biggest challenges the community faces.

“We have an issue of water in our village; we have to travel long distances to get water. Our family has donkeys, imagine the struggle those without donkeys go through. At least a donkey can carry up to four containers on its back, which is impossible for a human being. This means that those without donkeys or a donkey cart have to travel more than five kilometres carrying 25 litres on their shoulders,” Ntaata said.

Another villager who was disappointed by the lack of water at the water point that day was Josephine Shindimba, who expressed disappointment with the government's rural water supply programme at their village.

“We need water to cook, to do laundry, to bathe and we need to drink water. At Ncamagoro village access to water is a struggle, especially to those living deep in the inland. The country gained its independence 29 years ago but we are still struggling to have water close to or in our homes. This is disappointing,” she said.

Shindimba said the elderly, especially women who live alone, spend their monthly pensions on paying young people to the borehole to fetch water for them.

“The pensioners have no choice but to pay because they cannot walk five kilometres carrying a 25-litre container filled with water. This is the reality on the ground and we want the government to do something,” she said.

Both Ntaata and Shindimba called on the government to extend its water pipelines and make provision for people to install private taps in their homes.

“Government must just construct the pipelines in the communities and allow us to pull water to our homestead even if we have to struggle to get the funds to get the pipes,” they said collectively.

When contacted for comment, Ncamagoro constituency councillor Sikondo Johannes Kahonzo confirmed that rural water supply in his constituency is a problem.

“The population of that village, Ncamagoro, is very big and currently they are only served by two boreholes. One is pumping water using electricity and the other one has solar panels,” Kahonzo said.

He added that the situation is so dire that he sometimes has to allow the community members to make use of the tap at the constituency office.

Kahonzo said the constituency needs more boreholes but there are no funds to make that possible.

“I cannot deny what the people have shared with you. I would be lying to you if I said that we have funds to rehabilitate or drill new boreholes.

"There is no money and this situation is all over. We have identified two boreholes at villages in the constituency that need urgent rehabilitation,” he said.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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