Debt is exasperating Aroab water crisis

Martin Endjala

Residents of Aroab in //Karas Region are up in arms over a water shortage that has plagued them for at least three years.

The villagers are blaming the Aroab Village Council for failing to address the water shortage in the area.

The situation has been ongoing for the past three years, and it is said to have gotten worse, as residents often stay without water during the afternoon and sometimes for days on end.

Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency Councillor, Willem Labuschagne, informed Windhoek Observer last week that due to the shortage of water, residents are forced to share.

He described the situation as a recipe for disaster that puts residents at risk of contracting water-borne diseases.

He stated that for many years, the village council has been promising to solve the problem but nothing until now.

“NamWater told us that there are two boreholes. If that is the case, why is Aroab experiencing a water crisis? It might be because of the N$1.3 million debt to NamWater. Three years ago, when NamWater was here, they said there was no outstanding debt. So where did this debt come from and why was it allowed to reach such a staggering amount,” Labuschagne asked.

He said that they found out that the diameter of the pipe in the boreholes and pipes that transport water to Aroab, is 110 millimetres.

He said that at some stage about halfway between the boreholes and the village reservoir, the pipe had broken and was reduced in diameter to 40 millimetres.

Coupled with power outages, the situation continues to get worse day by day.

The Councillor called for immediate interventions by both NamWater and Aroab Village Council.

He stated that if they are unable to do their work, they should pack their bags and go and allow capable leaders to come in and rectify the situation.

In response to the concerns, Aroab Council Chairperson, Erika Mienies said they are aware of the water crisis in Aroab and have an appointment with NamWater to discuss the matter and to find a solution.

“Yes, we have water challenges, but we have an appointment with NamWater this week to solve the matter,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Association of Aroab Farmers, Pieter van Schalkwyk, in a letter to the Aroab Village Council, dated 29 February 2024, said the water shortage is affecting everyone in the community, and it seems that only promises are being made with no real action towards finding solutions.

“Citizens are being given the run around between Aroab Village Council and NamWater, who keeps pointing the finger at Nam Water. Residents of Aroab are not able to address NamWater directly because it only works with the Village Council which is their client.

On the other hand, the Village Council says that they are not responsible for the water delivery and that residents should talk to NamWater,” said Van Schalkwyk.

He said there was a N$14 million project by NamWater to address water shortages and the installation of new infrastructure which was set to start in April 2022. He added that the promise was made to residents in 2020, however, nothing has happened since.

He pointed out that sanitation at schools, every household, local business, guest houses and health clinic are suffering without water at crucial times during the day.

He argued that being without water in Aroab’s severe heat during summertime is life-threatening, especially when there are power failures.

He added that there are no backup generators to run the water pump from the reservoir.

He called on the Aroab Village Council and NamWater to address the issue with the utmost urgency because it is affecting the entire Aroab community.

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