Authorities neglect safe toilets

The office of the auditor-general has slammed ministries and local councils for poor control over sewerage systems.

26 September 2018 | Health


A lack of safe toilets has raised fears of groundwater pollution and disease outbreaks caused by sewage leaks.

A recent performance audit report by the auditor-general found that between 2013 and 2016, 53 of the 642 households at Gibeon were using bucket toilets.

“As a result, the unhygienic environment such as open defecation, pit latrine without slab and usage of a bucket system might further result in a variety of widespread health problems,” the auditors warned.

They found that at Kalkrand, Gibeon and Stampriet sewage systems were not properly maintained because of a lack of skills and equipment. This resulted in groundwater pollution at Gibeon.

The report states that 57% of the 14 towns visited “did not maintain cleanliness in terms of sewage management” because the local authorities “do not properly maintain the sewage reticulation systems.”

The auditors found several overflowing sewer manholes, as well as plastic septic tanks spilling their contents onto the streets, illustrated by photos taken at Ondangwa and Divundu.

A widespread lack of maintenance of sewage systems was also identified.

At Usakos, it was found that the town council did not conduct regular inspections at the main pump station, where sewer screeners were missing, a standby pump was broken and vegetation was growing in old and cracking sewage ponds, which could result in “untreated sewage overflowing into the environment.”

At Ondangwa, where a contractor had been appointed to maintain pump stations, the auditors found the company was not complying with contract conditions because it was left unsupervised by the town council.

The auditors warned that “inefficient management of sewage by local authorities may further result in underground water pollution” and public health scares, as well as depriving many Namibians of access to safe and hygienic toilets.

Not doing their job

At the core of the issue was the failure of ministries to ensure compliance with permit conditions, the auditors found.

The main culprits identified in the conclusion of the report included the ministry of environment and tourism’s department of environment affairs, which failed to ensure the development of environmental management plans and that towns obtain environmental clearance certificates for sewage management.

The department of water affairs and forestry, under the agriculture ministry, failed in many cases to ensure that towns have valid wastewater permits.

The housing, habitat, planning and technical services department within the urban and rural development ministry failed on several fronts.

The auditors noted that the department could not provide assurance that the quality of material used and work done by contractors in certain towns was inspected. The directorate could not provide inspection reports of the 146 infrastructure development projects valued at nearly N$1.8 million undertaken during the period under review.

An analysis also showed that the urban and rural development ministry took between 29 and 92 working days to transfer funds for sewerage development projects, which resulted in project delays and completion due to late payment of contractors and consultants.

The auditors further found that some projects were incomplete, with missing sewer screeners and faulty sewer manholes that led to pipe bursts and flooding of sewage into the environment.

Furthermore, the housing directorate failed to ensure that sewerage infrastructure was in line with standards.

The directorate of primary health care services in the health ministry is listed as failing to coordinate or monitor local authorities to ensure compliance with public health laws and regulations.

The report highlighted that since independence, Namibia has faced increasing rural-to-urban migration, with 43% of the population living in urban areas in 2011 compared to 33% in 2001.

This has led to urban populations outgrowing sewerage capacities in towns. About 22% of urban households are estimated to have no access to toilets and 1.3% have to use bucket toilets or defecate in the open.

The report contains numerous recommendations, including increased pressure by ministries on local authorities to ensure compliance with permit conditions and improved monitoring by ministries.

Similar News


Spread of hepatitis E unique to Namibia

5 days ago - 13 December 2018 | Health

The way in which the hepatitis E outbreak has spread in Namibia is unique in the world, health experts say.Since the first cases were reported...

More villages get toilets

1 week ago - 11 December 2018 | Health

Although two northern villages were declared open-defecation-free (ODF) this week, an estimated 1.15 million Namibians, or half the population, still don't have access to proper...

Know your status

2 weeks ago - 04 December 2018 | Health

Elizabeth Joseph World Aids Day is commemorated on 1 December and although it brings creative awareness campaigns, it also brings a great wave of...

N$390m boost for HIV/Aids battle

2 weeks ago - 03 December 2018 | Health

The American government, through its United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has given Namibia an additional N$395 million under its US President's Emergency Plan...

HIV babies: The shocking truth

2 weeks ago - 30 November 2018 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES Paediatric HIV/Aids treatment is facing the ongoing challenges of a lack of child formulations to fight the...

Pensioner ankle-deep in sewage

3 weeks ago - 26 November 2018 | Health

A 91-year-old kindergarten owner in Katutura's so-called Wambo-lokasie has endured streams of sewage running through her house and yard for months, while City of Windhoek...

Anthrax outbreak in Sesfontein area

1 month - 16 November 2018 | Health

Thirteen people have been infected with anthrax after consuming infected meat in the Sesfontein area. The anthrax outbreak in the Kunene and Kavango-East regions...

Did you know?

1 month - 16 November 2018 | Health

Prostate cancer has been the most diagnosed form of cancer accounting to 23,6 percent of cancers prevalent in Namibian men. According to the Cancer Association...

‘Snakes won’t chase you’

1 month - 16 November 2018 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht - “On the contrary, snakes are shy animals that will only attack in self-defence,” says Francois Theart. He has made it his mission...

No one should die of Malaria – Haufiku

1 month - 13 November 2018 | Health

Health minister Bernhard Haufiku says nobody should die of malaria, which is a preventable and curable disease.Haufiku says shocking statistics of malaria cases and deaths...

Latest News

Police divers search for drowning...

20 hours ago | Crime

Police divers are searching for the bodies of four girls - aged 13, 15, 16 and 17 - who drowned in the Orange River on...

Support your child

20 hours ago | Columns

For many thousands of young Namibians, who wrote their grade 10 and matric examinations this year, it is a time of great uncertainty, as they...

PDM embarrassed by govt

20 hours ago | Politics

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) says 2018 was an embarrassing year, as government leaders failed to address rising labour, social and economic problems. PDM...

Iilonga to be buried in...

20 hours ago | People

President Hage Geingob has accorded liberation veteran, politician and unionist Petrus Iilonga a state funeral.In a media statement, the presidency announced that Iilonga would be...

Mujoro 'excited' about DRC EVMs

20 hours ago | Politics

With elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) slated for 23 December, Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) chief electoral officer Theo Mujuro is currently...

Litterbugs beware

20 hours ago | Environment

Littering and other environmental damage will not be tolerated in Namibia's national parks and protected areas this festive season. The environment ministry, together with the...

Van der Westhuizen tops

20 hours ago | Sports

An 80-year-old golfer, Piet van der Westhuizen, was recently crowned as the winner of the Bank Windhoek Senior Open Golf Championship that took place in...

Legends turn on Mourinho

20 hours ago | Sports

Jose Mourinho came under fire from Manchester United legends after his side's dismal display in a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool that underlined just how far...

Magic to tango with Julinho

20 hours ago | Sports

Tura Magic will clash with Julinho Sporting tonight in the 2018/19 Namibia Premier League (NPL).The match will take place at the Sam Nujoma Stadium at...

Load More