WINDHOEK: Cabinet has received the long-awaited request for the introduction of water subsidies in the rural areas, which might result in cheaper water services there.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa made this announcement as he addressed the first-ever Water Investment Conference in the capital on Wednesday.
“Something is there, and the government will look into what is available to subsidise water for the poor,” he noted.
About two years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry (MAWF) proposed for the implementation of a possible rural water supply subsidy.
“The government has realised that not all people living in rural areas can afford to contribute towards the full cost of recovery of water supply, hence the proposed subsidy. However, no final decision has yet been taken on how and when the planned water subsidy for rural water supply would be implemented,” Mutorwa said.
He told delegates at the conference that finalising the document for submission to Cabinet has not been an easy assignment.
South African consultancy firm, Geldenhuys Consultants, investigated the viability of a rural water supply subsidy, and suggested three options that could be considered.
The first option is a water point subsidy, which implies an indirect subsidy to communities, while another option is to subsidise poor households directly.
The third and most expensive option was the uniform subsidy for all, which would ensure equitability, and simplify the administrative processes.
The consultants also strongly advised that subsidies be given for household water use only, and not for livestock.
It is, however, suggested that the inclusion of livestock be investigated.
“Water has a price tag and the payment for water is a hot debate and a burning issue. Water is scarce and expensive, and affordability is quite an issue,” Mutorwa added.
A United Nations (UN) independent expert on the right to water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, who paid a week-long visit to Namibia in July last year, commended the Namibian Government for making significant progress in extending its water network across the country over the past 20 years.
She stressed that access to water and sanitation are human rights, and while that does not mean that the two services must be offered free of charge, it means that systems must be put in place to ensure the availability of these services for people who face economic barriers to gain such access.
The conference ends on Friday.